ICT for Measurement, Control, and Monitoring in Smart Grids

Written by Sudhir K Routray

These days smart grids are very popular. They are not only the power networks; rather they serve the people and businesses in many different ways. In order to carry out all these functions, a lot of measurements are needed in the smart grids. Similarly, a lot of control and monitoring related tasks are essential for the smooth operation of the smart grids. In this article, we present emerging information and communication technologies (ICT) used for the measurement, control and monitoring tasks in the smart grids.

 

Introduction

Smart grids are different from the traditional grids in many different ways. These smart grids are multipurpose networks which perform several tasks [1]. The large size and multi-functionality of the smart grids demand a lot of measurement, control, and monitoring of the key parameters. There are several reasons why ICT based measurement, control, and monitoring are preferred over their traditional counterparts [2]. First, the ICT based measurement, control and monitoring are cost effective, and energy efficient. They provide better accuracy and reduce human intervention. Longevity is high for these ICT based systems. These ICT based systems are programmable, and can be controlled and monitored remotely. These devices can be managed autonomously, and thus avoid human intervention at dangerous locations. Overall, ICT based measurement, control and monitoring systems outperforms their traditional counterparts [2].

 

ICT for Smart Grids

ICT has several roles in smart grids. In general, ICT can help in the control, management and overall monitoring operation in smart grids. The large structures of smart grids are complex due to the presence of multiple heterogeneous components, different type of generators, and load diversities. These complex parts are dependent on each other. Trouble in one part can affect the other parts and even the entire grid [1]. Therefore, fault detection in a grid section and its reporting to other associated sections are of immense importance for overall smooth functioning of smart grids. ICT can play crucial roles in these aspects. It can also fix several of these problems autonomously.

 

ICT Based Measurements in Smart Grids

In the last three decades, wireless communication technologies have become very popular. New initiatives in ICT such as the Internet of things (IoT) and wireless sensor networks (WSN) perform accurate measurements in different fields. These technologies can be applied in the smart grids for measurements [2].  Both these technologies are really good at measuring physical parameters using sensors and actuators. In addition to the measurement tasks these systems can take some corrective actions to overcome the faulty situation through the actuators. IoT and WSN can measure the following physical parameters of the power grids [2].

  1. Terminal voltages of the generators, transformers, and other key points
  2. Frequencies of the generators
  3. Power factors at different key locations
  4. Smart meters for the load side measurement and disruption reporting
  5. Temperature of the transformer (oil temperature is measured)
  6. Vibrations of the machines and transmission lines
  7. Insulator leakage currents (at all high voltage locations where insulators are present)

 

ICT Based Control in Smart Grids

Control of the grid parameters is very important to keep the performance optimum all the time. The dynamics of the smart grids are combinations of many complex processes. Overall control of the grid depends on the control of individual constituent parts. ICT based control and feedback mechanism can support the following aspects in the smart grids [2].

  1. Providing support for proper coordination in the distributed generation process
  2. Support in the proper load sharing (through timely information sharing)
  3. Regulation of the terminal voltages and frequencies of the generators
  4. Synchronization of a smart grid with another
  5. Power flow control within the smart grid and among the smart grids
  6. Controlling the input of the generators through feedback mechanisms
  7. Optimizing the smart grid performances

 

ICT Based Monitoring in Smart Grids

Due to the size and importance of the continuous services of smart grids, monitoring is essential for some key physical parameters. Some of these parameters include: terminal voltage, frequency, power factor and temperature at key locations. Monitoring of these parameters is possible in the IoT based framework [2]. Using both the IoT and WSNs, key information related to the grid performances can be collected from the appropriate locations. Overall, this helps in the performance optimization and fault avoidance. Cascade failures and several other sequential failures can be avoided using ICT based monitoring systems [2].

Here, it is noteworthy that smart grids are capable of providing ICT services such as data transmission at high data rates. Power line communication (PLC) and vehicle to grid communication are popular   in the recent times. It is obvious that the measurement, control and monitoring information can also be sent using PLC principles along the power lines. All the above mentioned tasks can be performed through PLC or wireless communications. Though IoT and WSN based measurement, control and monitoring information are sent preferably wirelessly; it can also be sent using PLC. However, appropriate modulators/demodulators and filters are essential to processes the data and to select the appropriate frequencies (power and data use different frequencies) at the key locations for the use of PLC. Therefore, in the smart grids we have a backup data transmission option for the ICT based measurement, control and monitoring information.

 

 

 

References

  1. K. C Budka, J. G. Deshpande, and M. Thotton, Communication Networks for Smart Grids, Springer-Verlag: London, 2014.
  2. S. K. Routray, D. Gopal, A. Pallekonda, S. Kokkirigadda, A. Javali, “Measurement, Control, and Monitoring in Smart grids Using NBIoT,” in Proc. of Sixth IEEE International Conference on Inventive Computation Technologies (ICICT), pp. 1217 – 1222, Coimbatore, 2021.

 

This article edited by Geev Mokryani

For a downloadable copy of the August 2021 eNewsletter which includes this article, please visit the IEEE Smart Grid Resource Center.

Sudhir Routray portrait photo
Sudhir K. Routray volunteers for IEEE since last 20 years since his early university years. He received his PhD degree from University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal where he worked on the communication networks. He received his MSc degree in Data Communications from the University Sheffield, Sheffield, UK, and his BE degree in Electrical Engineering from Indira Gandhi Institute of Technology, Sarang, India. He has received several awards and fellowships for his research works. Currently, works as an associate professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Bule Hora University, Bule Hora. He has more than 70 publications in journals, conferences, and books, mainly in IEEE. Currently, he is the PI of two funded projects.

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