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IEEE: The expertise to make smart grid a reality



The idea for a new vision of the power grid in Romania was initiated by the academia between (2005-2007) in preparation for participation in the European Union’s (EU) Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) launched under the “Technology Platform for the Electricity Networks of the Future” started in 2007. In 2007 Romania joined the European Union and therefore has adapted its legislation to reflect the EU’s policy. The private and public energy sector in Romania has embraced both EU and Romania electrical energy policy viewing those policies as a cornerstone of sustainable development within the country. Today the term “Smart Grid” is the actual topic for discussions in most of the meetings held in Romania concerning electrical energy policy. This being said, the term “smart grid” is still the subject of debate. An initiative of the power engineering community, with the support of ECRO, a private company, has resulted in creating a wiki platform called GREI, which aims to help specialists at the national level as Romania defines what it sees the Smart Grid to be.

The Romanian Power System

The Romanian power system has undergone major changes after 2000, when the generation sector was unbundled from the transmissions and distribution sectors. The transmission network (400 kV, 220 kV and part of the 110 kV networks) is actually administrated by the national power grid company Transelectrica, which is over 70% own by the state. As in most of the European countries, Transelectrica is the only one transmission and system operator in the country. The distribution networks, including low voltage, medium voltage and the most part of the 110 kV networks, have been split into 8 subsidiaries and administrated by Electrica, the nation-wide distribution company; 5 of the 8 distribution subsidiaries have been privatized, with over 50% of that participation coming from 3 foreign companies (ENEL-Italy, EoN-Germany and CEZ-Czech Republic).

In 2000 Romania’s power market was created. Today trades with electrical energy and certificates take place under the power market operator OPCOM. The power reserves for frequency regulation are traded on the balancing market, operated by the National Dispatching Center, subsidiary of Transelectrica. The load balancing activity is not yet a difficult task thanks to the approximately 30% of the electricity produced by hydro power plants. As the real-time operation website reveals, the load is also covered from coal, gas, oil, nuclear and wind sources. Moreover, recently was approved the construction of a 1000 MW Pump-Storage Hydropower Plant.
The National Energy Regulatory Authority (ANRE) is Romanian government regulatory agency charged with creating and implementing appropriate legislation in the electricity, heat and gas sectors.

Teletrans, a subsidiary of Transelectrica, is the owner of a high-performance telecommunication infrastructure currently being upgraded to be able to service a whole new family of Smart Grid related applications which will be used to control the grid at the transmission level. Included in these applications are systems to enable the integration of wind generated power considered an important component of Romania’s electrical energy policy.

A development program

The “smart grid” concept is differently shaped within the transmission and distribution domains. To date, the transmission domain in Romania is subjected to extensive modernization and development, the distribution domain as is the case in most countries lags behind. Transelectrica, Romania’s transmission provider has a sustained investment plan for modernizing and strengthening the transmission system. As of 2010, 44% of its 79 substations have already gone through this process.

The Romanian power grid has been interconnected with the UCTE (currently ENTSO-E) European grid since 2004. From that time, Transelectrica has included in its development plan the strengthening of the interconnection lines between the Western Romania with Hungary and Serbia. This strengthening of the Western interconnect along with the relative strong interconnections with Bulgaria in the south will allow the Romanian electricity utilities to look with confidence towards an operational regional day ahead power market, and the possibility for exchanging electrical energy over longer distances.

Encouraged by the wind potential and the incentives through the green certificates scheme, foreign and local investors have started developing wind power plants, mostly in eastern Romania. The share of energy from wind sometimes exceeds 6% of total generation and continues to increase as new wind farms come online and technologies advance.

Romania has adopted into its national energy policy the strategic goal to achieve the EU stated ambition of 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2020 compared with 1990 levels, a 20 percent cut in energy consumption through improved energy efficiency by 2020 and a 20 percent increase in the use of renewable energy by 2020.

Public and Private investments are also being made in new classical thermal and hydraulic power plants. Romania sees these investments in transmission as vital to its national aspirations to become a key energy producer.

Strategies towards a smarter grid

The first step of the Romanian government towards implementation of the smart grid concept was the adoption in November 2010 of the “Action Plan for implementation in the national power system of the Smart Grid concept”. The plan has been approved by the Ministry of Economy, Commerce and Business Environment. The aim of the plan is to set a roadmap towards implementation of the smart grid concept, starting from feasibility studies and requisite legislation.

According to the EU’s strategy, if proven to be economically viable, EU member countries should replace at least 80% of the energy meters within their countries with smart metering by 2020.

Although participation of loads for balancing services is possible on the Balancing Market, this option has yet to be implemented in Romania. It is expected that the implementation of smart metering may also support the active participation of loads on the power market. Furthermore, it is anticipated that smart metering will foster expansion of new applications and services to the consumer. Although the meters industry is well developed in Romania, a national direction regarding the implementation of Smart Metering has yet to be officially determined.

Current Smart Grid Projects

Smart Grid Test Project Brasov City - In December of 2010 Electrica SA, Flashnet and CURRENT Technologies International launched the first East European Smart Grid test project in the old town center of Brasov City. It is the goal of the project to modernize the electric distribution network by enabling bidirectional communication. A key component of a Smart Grid this implementation of bidirectional communications will make it possible to transfer data from any point of the network to the dispatching center thereby greatly increasing the quality of distribution services.

Technology to be implemented in Brasov include: the PRIME telemetry system, a modernized medium voltage data communications network, online analysis of low voltage transformation points, grid management, monitoring and alerting software dispatch systems, and video monitoring and sensors for movement, humidity, temperature, smoke and flooding.

Final Note: We would like to thank Lucian Toma, Radu Porumb and Mihaela Albu who authored this document on Romania

Lucian Toma Lucian Toma was born in 1977, in Romania. He has received the engineer and Ph.D. degrees in electrical power systems from the University “Politehnica” of Bucharest in 2002 and 2010, respectively. In 2010 he was awarded an European founded postdoctoral fellowship with the research topic focusing on smart grids. He is also lecturer at University “Politehnica” of Bucharest, Department of Electrical Power Systems. His fields of interest include power markets, computer modeling of power system components, power system stability assessment, applications of FACTS devices and smart grid topics. Dr. Lucian Toma is member of IEEE-PES since 2004. In 2009 he has co-organized the IEEE PowerTech Conference in Bucharest.

Mihaela Albu Mihaela Albu (M’96, SM’07) is from Craiova, Romania. She graduated power engineering from “Politehnica” University of Bucharest in 1987 and holds the Ph.D. degree from the same university. Since 2002 she is a Professor of Electrical Engineering at “Politehnica” University of Bucharest. Her research interests include instrumentation for power grids, active distribution networks, power quality, novel measurement and communication techniques, associated uncertainty estimation and remote experimentation embedded within on-line laboratories. In 2005 she founded the MicroDERLab group, active in several national and international R&D consortia (on topics related to networks stability, synchronized measurements, and DC grids). Dr. Albu was spending a leave at Arizona State University as a Fulbright Fellow 2002 – 2003 and in 2010.

Radu Proumb Radu Porumb (StM’03, M’05) was born in 1977, in Romania. He has received the engineer degree in electrical power systems from the University “Politehnica” of Bucharest in 2001 and Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from Politecnico di Torino, Italy, in 2005. In 2010 he was awarded an European founded postdoctoral fellowship with the research topic focusing on power quality issues of smart grids. He is also lecturer at University "Politehnica" of Bucharest, Department of Electrical Power Systems. His fields of interest include electric distribution systems, power quality, distributed generation, energy efficiency, computer modeling of power system reliability and smart grid topics.