Digital substations, the smart grids’ substations

Electricity transmission and distribution grids are currently facing a range of challenges including: maintaining reliability and stability, avoiding outages, improving their efficiency and reducing operating and maintenance costs. One very important factor is having exact knowledge of the condition of the grid and what is going on at any time. One of the concerns of operators is to improve the security of their entire grid, at the same time as supporting greater penetration of the distributed energy resources and dealing with other environmental issues such as the elimination, where possible, of the insulating oil used by the equipment.

To achieve this aim, new technologies have been implemented that allow the limitations of the old systems regarding measurement, control, protection and monitoring to be overcome. Smart solutions with digital ransformers,Ethernet-based networks and electronic smart devices and systems, are the future.

The intelligence of the smart grids is no longer relegated to the central control room. These grids are becoming smarter at substation level. A digital substation offers a flexible communications infrastructure that reduces the limitations of end-to-end cabling systems and permits real time, two-way sharing of information and the status of the devices. This improves the response capacity and flexibility of the system as a whole. Such visibility and control provided by the digital substations helps electricity companies enhance their response capacity and flexibility, allowing them to better meet the needs of today’s grid operators.

Article published in: FuturENERGY October 2014