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Smart Grid Watch

  • Shalin Shah 07/10/2016

    Why power is critical to everything in a digital world

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    This blog post is a reprint from ReadWrite.

    Infrastructure systems around the world are being strained due to unprecedented urbanization, continued globalization, and climate change. In addition, developing countries are struggling to build new infrastructure, while developed countries must replace aging infrastructure.

    Between now and 2030, an estimated minimum of $50 trillion in infrastructure investment is required to fuel global development. Cities such as Amsterdam are addressing these challenges in its Amsterdam Smart City initiative, launched in 2009, which includes 79 projects collaboratively developed by local residents, government, and businesses.

    Improving efficiency of services, not just energy

    A smart city should improve its quality of life through technology to improve the efficiency of services, especially for efficient transportation, intelligent buildings, and smart power grids. Many projects run on an interconnected platform through wireless devices to enhance a city’s real-time decision-making abilities.

    These projects can reduce traffic, save energy, and improve public safety. The power of the data-driven world of the Internet of Things (IoT) is the promise that the consumer can finally take control of their environment. Whether travel, smart homes, or connected buildings, people are using the power of real-time sensors to understand and engage with their world.

    One of the biggest opportunities is for people to finally be able to interact with the one element that controls everything: power. With access to real-time data and the emergence of the digital grid, consumers can finally take control of their power needs at the edge of the grid, and finally see the promise in a true two-way grid that first started with smart meters and now will be delivered with the smart grid.

    Digital grid use cases and applications vary in their potential to add value. The use cases in the energy industry can be generally divided into three levels that represent increasing levels of value:

    Level 1: Modernizing infrastructure & improving operations

    It may be easy to overlook the importance of modernizing existing power infrastructure, but the bottom line is that we cannot rebuild our power grid from scratch. We have to rely on intelligent technologies to improve the systems we have in place to improve power quality and security and continue to deliver safe, affordable, and reliable energy to consumers. Utilities are transforming while still performing. For example, a large percentage of BC Hydro’s smart meter program benefits are realized in revenue protection. IoT-connected devices with tighter security have the ability to give utilities unprecedented levels of control over their operations through improved hardware and digital technologies.

    Level 2: Enhancing Efficiency & Cost Savings

    Focusing on digital technology drives efficiencies across a utility’s business by increasing the opportunity to integrate new renewable generation and distributed energies into their system to help go beyond the scope of basic infrastructure and operations. Utilities are improving total uptime and reducing overall maintenance costs by deploying predictive maintenance analytics that increase the quantity and quality of maintenance schedules. For example, PPL Electric has reported a 38% improvement in service reliability enabled in part by the deployment of sophisticated analytical capabilities.

    Level 3: Business transformation services for more value-added services 

    In the final level, the value to a utility goes far beyond basic operational enhancements or efficiency, ultimately leading to major change to the business value for the utility, typically reflected in the form of new products and services that are outside of the traditional utility model and offering more value-added services to consumers. The digital grid enables utilities to offer new services at both the wholesale and retail/consumer level by providing deeper insights on capacity demand, issue identification, pricing options, and more. Oklahoma Gas & Electric, in a bid to substantially shed load by 2020, is using customer analytics to gain visibility on individual customers’ responses to price signals. This is allowing them to identify the best customers to target with specific marketing campaigns.

    To address the challenges described above and realize the full potential of a true IoT for smart energy, we need to modernize utilities’ infrastructure, improve operations and enhance efficiencies first, but the ultimate goal is to transform into a customer-centric company that can offer more value-added services to the end-consumers.

    ...
  • Harald Mayer 06/10/2016

    Transformers - the Big Picture - SITRAM Condition Monitoring

    What’s rally happening with your transformers, right now? Sensors typically installed on a transformer’s tap changer, bushings and cooling system provide useful data — but often this data isn’t integrated to yield a clear, comprehensive view of current conditions and emerging issues. This can make it hard to take proactive action to protect investments in critical assets.

     

    SITRAM Condition Monitor, a platform from Siemens, is a modular monitoring system that enables power system operators to cost-effectively keep a close eye on transformers from any manufacturer. Key values are analyzed and presented via a tailored data visualization. This helps network operators detect incipient faults early, allowing safe and timely corrections. In turn, this reduces maintenance and repair costs, while getting the most out of your asset and reducing downtimes.

     

    The starter version of this platform continuously monitors winding temperature, fault gases, moisture in oil and other relevant operating parameter. Also, the amount of useful life remaining for each transformer is calculated based on hot-spot temperature, using IEC/IEEE standards.

     

    Expansion modules can monitor the tap changer, bushings, gas in oil and partial discharges. These modules can also be installed at a later time if desired.

     

    Learn more about SITRAM Condition Monitoring from Siemens Customer Services.

     

    Questions, please comment below or contact us to get directly in touch with our experts.

    Siemens Condition Monitoring website, try the test system.

     

    Subscribe to the Energy Management Services Newsletter.

    ...
  • Harald Mayer 06/10/2016

    How old is that transformer- really

    How much remaining life does a transformer really have left? The life span of a transformer is largely determined by the composition of the cellulose insulation and insulating oil. Of all the materials used they are the ones which are subjected the most to operation-dependent ageing processes.

     

    With good maintenance, and by keeping operation within design parameters, a transformer can run for well over 30 years. However, harsh environments, chronic overloading, or stressful events (such as transient overvoltages or cooling system faults) can drastically shorten this timeframe. The key to protecting investments in transformers can be periodically checking on how specific transformer materials are aging. Analyzing trends in this data can prove indispensable to targeted maintenance plans.

     

    The Siemens Test Laboratory for Transformer Materials offers a complete program for diagnostics for oil-filled electrical equipment. This can provide actionable insight into new and retrofit transformer fleets.

     

    The physical-chemical test laboratory accompanies the new and service business for transformers for more than 50 years. Testing of new materials and evaluating of suppliers belongs to the high quality standards of the business. The basic principles of gas-in-oil analysis (the most important method for transformer asset management) have been developed 30 years ago. In recent times further new internationally  recognized test methods, e.g. for corrosive sulfur have been developed. Laboratory members are active within IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) and CIGRE (International Council on Large Electric Systems) and responsible for the development and maintenance of material specifications, as well as for research and development projects within the company. The laboratory is certified according ISO 17025, which is an evidence for the high technical competence and independent evaluation.

     

    The testing scope, as well as additional information can be found on Material Testing Laboratory.

     

    Along the regular tests the laboratory is dealing with fault investigations concerning the involvement and compatibility of materials. We have numerous complementary methods available for reliably determining the different influencing parameters and with that the current condition of the transformer.

     

    For any questions and inquiries we are available at: testlab.energy@siemens.com

     

    Learn more about Customer Services from Siemens Energy Management Customer Services

     

    Questions, please comment below or contact us to get directly in touch with our experts.

     

    Subscribe to the Energy Management Services Newsletter.

     

    ...
  • Martin Shalhoub 14/09/2016

    Successfully Integrating Increasing Levels of Distributed Energy Resources

    Successfully integrating increased levels of distributed energy resources (DER) into a distribution network is a complex process, impacting both transmission and distribution systems as well as Planning and Operations departments. The identification of potential issues and designing of effective solutions relies heavily on effective planning and analysis.

    Siemens PTI’s core expertise in power system analyses provides planning insights that enable our clients to make technical and economic business decisions regarding the performance, operation, and expansion of their systems. We offer high-quality integrated planning solutions for the challenges faced by both utilities and renewable generation developers, independently or in collaboration with both parties.

    Join the Siemens experts at the first annual Digital Grid Customer Summit, October 10-12, 2016 in Minneapolis, MN, as they discuss how utilities are integrating DERs, the potential challenges, and the solutions.

    ...
  • Harald Mayer 02/08/2016

    How old is that transformer, really?

    How much remaining life does a transformer really have left? The life span of a transformer is largely determined by the composition of the cellulose insulation and insulating oil. Of all the materials used they are the ones which are subjected the most to operation-dependent ageing processes.

    With good maintenance, and by keeping operation within design parameters, a transformer can run for well over 30 years. However, harsh environments, chronic overloading, or stressful events (such as transient overvoltages or cooling system faults) can drastically shorten this timeframe. The key to protecting investments in transformers can be periodically checking on how specific transformer materials are aging. Analyzing trends in this data can prove indispensable to targeted maintenance plans.

    The Siemens Test Laboratory for Transformer Materials offers a complete program for diagnostics for oil-filled electrical equipment. This can provide actionable insight into new and retrofit transformer fleets.

    The physical-chemical test laboratory accompanies the new and service business for transformers for more than 50 years. Testing of new materials and evaluating of suppliers belongs to the high quality standards of the business. The basic principles of gas-in-oil analysis (the most important method for transformer asset management) have been developed 30 years ago. In recent times further new internationally  recognized test methods, e.g. for corrosive sulfur have been developed. Laboratory members are active within IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) and CIGRE (International Council on Large Electric Systems) and responsible for the development and maintenance of material specifications, as well as for research and development projects within the company. The laboratory is certified according ISO 17025, which is an evidence for the high technical competence and independent evaluation.

    The testing scope, as well as additional information can be found on Material Testing Laboratory.

    Along the regular tests the laboratory is dealing with fault investigations concerning the involvement and compatibility of materials. We have numerous complementary methods available for reliably determining the different influencing parameters and with that the current condition of the transformer.

    For any questions and inquiries we are available at: testlab.energy@siemens.com

    Learn more about Customer Services from Siemens Energy Management Customer Services

    Questions, please comment below or contact us to get directly in touch with our experts.

    Subscribe to the Energy Management Services Newsletter.

    ...
  • Usman Sindhu 27/07/2016

    Quantifying merits of incorporating renewables into the electrical grid

    Distributed energy resources (DER) including electric vehicles, storage, and variable generation (solar, wind) pose threats and opportunities alike to the energy providers. Storage technologies are improving and cost is coming down. The value of using storage to further energy efficiency, energy independence, energy sharing, and a transactive grid is even greater. A White House June 2016 report explores in detail the technical merits of emerging technologies such as variable energy resources (VER) and storage. In addition, it discusses how current energy delivery system including markets can benefit from storage.

    Opportunities 

    • Confidence in using renewable modes of energy supply is increasing. There are examples demonstrating that the entire or part of the infrastructure can rely on wind and solar supply. For example, Portugal experimented with 100% on wind, solar, and hydropower for four days straight in May 2016. Texas hit a record level of 45% instantaneous penetration from wind generation during one evening in February this year.  
    • Cost of lithium-ion battery used in the modern storage systems has dropped to almost 60% per kWh since 2007 (from $1000 kWh to $400 kWh).
    • Using VER can bring down ancillary services cost associated with moving energy from generation to consumption during supply shortages.  In fact, the report notes that DER can save $900,00 in annual grid management costs in California and up to $6.6 million in the mid-Atlantic region.
    • It’s relatively cheaper for a grid operator to take generation from VER than dispatchable sources. The dispatchable sources (traditional generation) have a cost for supplying energy during peak hours and shortages in the wholesale as well as spot market. As long as wind blows and the sun shines, grid operators would prefer procuring energy from renewable sources instead. 

    Challenges

    • Solar and wind are not dispatchable sources. There’s not much flexibility to dispatch the electricity at all times from VER. In addition, it’s relatively difficult to predict the generation capacity ahead of time even with predictive analytics and weatherization techniques.  
    • There are inherent challenges with solar and wind supply and consumer demand. Wind gusts stronger at night. While solar production is highest during the mid-day. In contrast, electricity demand is highest in morning and evening hours. The rapid ramp in demand is seen in the famous duck curve, typically in California. Storage can possibly help with difference between demand and supply pattern by ensuring adequate electricity is available when demand increases during the peak hours.
    • VER supply can’t be curtailed during times when demand is less than supply. Hence, adding another layer of complexity for the energy system. Consequently, there would be negative cost associated with excess supply. For instance, during the first quarter of 2016, there were numerous examples of negative prices in the late morning and early afternoon hours due to low load and high levels of renewable VER generation in the California ISO region.  Some of these instances could be called as “Load Defection” termed by Rocky Mountain Institute.
    • The cost to integrate the DER is critical. It means looking at transmission capacity and grid management costs. The costs would include fuel, capital, and resource " grid operations cost. Important indicators are congestion costs and ancillary services. Ancillary service cost increases due to uncertainty in supply. Congestion costs can also surge if there’s too much VER creating a bottleneck on the transmission links.

    Takeaway - Energy delivery and management is changing amid DER influx. Emerging technologies can help. Energy operators and other utility professionals have to carefully review the merits of emerging technologies and assess their impact on the grid. 

    ...
  • Shalin Shah 13/07/2016

    [Video Blog] IoT Analytics Architectures for Utilities

    Data from smart meters enable utilities to gather millions of more data points across the grid to better visualize how voltage is being distributed throughout their networks. This provides a rich variety of historic, real-time, and even predictive data. For example, this data could be used to predict how a local transformer might fail in different scenarios, based on its type, age, and network load.

    Before the Internet of Things (IoT) came along, utilities small and large had taken to the Cloud and reworked their IT architectures to create more flexible, scalable ways to manage their data. However, for those businesses (utilities or otherwise) looking to capitalize on the high-value, target-rich data the IoT will be churning out over the next decade, there will be even more to consider when it comes to IT data architectures.

    In this video blog, I use a whiteboard to diagram and discuss a very common IT architecture when dealing with IoT analytics specifically for utilities.

    ...
  • Shalin Shah 28/06/2016

    How to Calculate Microgrid ROI for Your Project: Through a Practical Case Study

    Microgrids are becoming increasingly popular amongst communities, businesses, universities, hospitals, and others seeking reliable and cost-effective energy. However, since they are complex solutions, including a variety of energy load types and different forms of energy generation (e.g., renewables), investors have yet to establish replicable financing models for microgrids. This is a dilemma that Algonquin College in Ontario, Canada recently faced.

    With more than 54,000 full- and part-time students, the college is renowned for integrating technology into learning. Its living laboratory of green technologies is designed to not only improve the campus environment, but also serve as an educational resource for students and faculty. The college is working to transform its campus to a model of energy management and sustainability with the lofty goals of:

    • Reducing campus energy expenses
    • Keeping the power flowing during a central grid outage
    • Addressing major deferred maintenance issues
    • Offering students and faculty new learning and research opportunities

    Siemens worked with Algonquin College to design a microgrid solution within an Energy Service Performance Contract (ESPC) to solve one of the most daunting issues facing the microgrid industry – how to finance a microgrid – while demonstrating an impressive return on investment for the advanced microgrid control software in less than four years!

    Microgrid Knowledge recently published a guide that demonstrates how financing models help investors understand how advanced controllers capture a microgrid’s full economic value. By modeling how to achieve microgrid ROI for each individual customer, Siemens and Microgrid Knowledge are at the forefront of advancing microgrid deployment. Download the guide here.

    ...
  • Harald Mayer 03/06/2016

    Transformer Spare Parts: Be Prepared for Grid Reliability

    Grid reliability is now a top priority, and challenge, for utilities — thanks, in part, to vast increases in the amount of renewables and other distributed resources on the grid. Transformer maintenance is an important part of achieving reliability, since transformers are working harder than ever. Downtime isn’t just costly; it can stress and compromise other parts of your grid.

    Siemens Customer Services (Transformer Lifecycle Management (TLM)) offers easy, fast access to the right spare parts for your transformer fleet. This not only reduces overall transformer management costs; it directly enhances grid reliability and resilience. 

    TLM provides specific planning and prompt delivery of high-quality spare parts and components, such as seals, valves, bushings, oil level indicators, terminal lugs, oil flow indicators, and more.

    Outage planning is a key feature of Customer Services. Siemens specialists will review your transformer maintenance needs, and make specific recommendations for which spare parts will be needed for your planned maintenance work. Siemens also will ensure that these parts are delivered on time. And, on an ongoing or as-needed basis, Siemens can offer insight and advice on transformer operations, maintenance and performance over the entire lifecycle.

    If a transformer does fail, Siemens specialists we be available to help you before, during and after the shutdown phases.

    TLM offers these benefits:

    • Enhanced transformer availability and reliability
    • Reduced maintenance requirements and cost (via extended maintenance intervals)
    • Longer useful life, which reduces capital expenditures for transformer replacement
    • Improved operational safety,
    • Reduced costs and risks of outages
    • Supports grid reliability.

    Learn more about Transformer Spare Parts from Siemens Energy Management Customer Services

    Questions, please comment below or contact us to get directly in touch with our experts.

    Subscribe to the Energy Management Services Newsletter.

    ...
  • Sonita Lontoh 02/06/2016

    What does the internet of things mean for the energy sector?

    This article was first published on the World Economic Forum agenda. It’s reprinted here with permissions. Sonita Lontoh is the Vice-President of Marketing at Siemens Digital Grid and will be speaking at the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit hosted by President Barack Obama in Silicon Valley on 22-24 June.

    When renowned American psychologist Abraham Maslow came up with his famous Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in 1943, he had studied what he called “exemplary” people, such as Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt and Frederick Douglass, to describe the pattern that human motivations generally move through. The highest level of need – self-actualization – referred to a person’s full potential and the realization of that potential. Maslow’s description of self-actualization can be summarized by the famous US Army slogan, “Be All You Can Be.” Maslow believed that for a person to realize their full potential, they must not only achieve the previous needs, but master them.

    The Hierarchy of IoT ‘Thing’ Needs. In it, he suggested we start treating internet-connected ‘things’ more like people – in the sense of thinking about them the way you would an employee hired to fulfill a specific job function. He argued that this sort of mentality would help not just the individual thing, but the entire IoT network, achieve its full potential. I agree with this and therefore, have adapted the pyramid for the needs of the smart energy market.

    As an illustrative example to help explain the pyramid above, let’s examine the utility industry within the smart energy market in the United States. There is no lack of change in today’s energy landscape and no surprise that this puts the US energy industry at a crossroads – one of challenge, but also opportunity. Utilities are at the heart of this transformation.

    Level 1: Modernizing infrastructure and improving operations

    It may be easy to overlook the importance of modernizing existing power infrastructure, but the bottom line is that we cannot rebuild our power grid from scratch. We have to rely on intelligent technologies to improve the systems we have in place to improve power quality and security, and continue to deliver safe, affordable, reliable energy to consumers. Utilities are transforming while still performing. For example, a large percentage of BC Hydro’s smart meter programme’s benefits are realized in revenue protection/assurance application. IoT-connected devices with tighter security have the ability to give utilities unprecedented levels of control over their operations through both improved hardware and digital technologies and fulfil this most fundamental need. Just as with Maslow’s theory, this most basic level of need must be met before the individual “thing” can focus upon the secondary or higher level needs.

    Level 2: Enhancing efficiency and cost savings

    Maslow also coined the term “metamotivation” to describe the motivation of people who go beyond the scope of the basic needs and strive for constant betterment.

    Similarly, focusing on digital technology drives efficiencies across a utility’s business by increasing the opportunity to integrate new renewable generation and distributed energies into their system to help go beyond the scope of basic infrastructure and operations.

    Utilities are improving total uptime and reducing overall maintenance costs by deploying predictive maintenance analytics that increase the quantity and quality of maintenance schedules. For example, PPL Electric has reported a 38% improvement in service reliability enabled in part by the deployment of sophisticated analytical capabilities.

    Level 3: Business transformation services for more value-added services to consumers

    In the final level, the value to a utility goes far beyond basic operational enhancements or efficiency, ultimately leading to major change to the business value for the utility, typically reflected in the form of new products and services that are outside of the traditional utility model and offering more value-added services to consumers.

    The smart grid enables utilities to offer new services at both the wholesale and retail/consumer level by providing deeper insights on capacity demand, issue identification, pricing options and more. Oklahoma Gas " Electric, in a bid to substantially shed load by 2020, is using customer analytics to gain visibility on individual customers’ responses to price signals. This is allowing them to identify the best customers to target with specific marketing campaigns.

    To address the challenges described above and realize the full potential of a true IoT for smart energy, we need to modernize utilities’ infrastructure, improve operations and enhance efficiencies first, but the ultimate goal is to transform into a customer-centric company that can offer more value-added services to the end-consumers.

    Author: Sonita Lontoh is the Vice-President of Marketing at Siemens Digital Grid and will be speaking at the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit hosted by President Barack Obama in Silicon Valley on 22-24 June.

    ...