IoT Assisted Power Electronics for Modern Grids

Written by Sudhir Routray

Now the Internet of things (IoT) has ubiquitous applications. In power systems and power grids IoT plays important roles. IoT provides a lot of advantages in the measurement, control, and monitoring of the physical parameters in the power grids. In order to make the grid management better and to reduce the energy consumption in the grids the power electronic components can take the assistance of IoT. Several IoT sensors can be deployed at the appropriate locations of the power electronic components to track their performances. Based on these IoT sensors’ information, IoT actuators can take appropriate actions to make the outcome optimal. Similarly, the IoT sensors’ information can be sent to the central servers in regular intervals to keep the track of the performances of the power electronic components. In addition to the above mentioned applications, several other uses of IoT in power electronics include the monitoring of the critical parameters such as temperature, current, voltage and vibration at different key locations in the power grids. In this article, we show how IoT can assist the power electronic components in the power grids to improve overall performances.

 

Power Electronics in Grids

Power electronic components are integral parts of the power grids. They play important roles to control, monitor, protect, and perform multiple tasks in the power systems. All the power system switch gears are dependent on power electronics. They are of prime importance for the grid modernization. Overall, the modern power grids cannot be realized without power electronics. It is clear that power electronic systems need modernization for the overall modernization of power grids. Currently, several advanced tools are available which can enhance the performances of power electronics in grids. For instance, IoT can assist power electronic systems to perform better and smoother. Similarly, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) based initiatives can be applied over the power electronic systems. These advanced technologies pave the ways for Power Electronics 2.0 [1]. IoT is expected to be one of the main technologies for Power Electronics 2.0.

 

IoT for Power Electronics

IoT is a wireless technology designed for massive machine type communications. It follows the wireless networking principles and it has its own standards. It can be deployed over a large area with small budgets due to its wireless communication capabilities. There are different types of IoTs available for deployment. Cellular IoTs can be deployed over the existing cellular communication networks. Cellular IoTs are comparatively cheaper than the non-cellular IoTs. Deployment of cellular IoTs is much simpler as they use the cellular infrastructure and some of the resources of cellular networks. However, non-cellular IoTs are needed where there are no cellular networks [2]. Both the cellular and non-cellular IoTs can be used for power electronic applications. The main IoTs components are: sensors, actuators, central servers, edge computing facilities, and end user devices. In grid power electronics, there are several needs of sensing, measurement, control, monitoring, and protection of grid components. IoT sensors can sense, measure, and detect the changes in the physical parameters and the surrounding alterations. Based on the sensor information, the actuators can be utilized for remote operation and even automation. If that is not necessary, the data can be sent to the appropriate locations where the central control and monitoring system can take the needful steps. In fact, IoT can assist power electronic systems in several ways.

 

Application Scenarios

IoT is a versatile technology and it can be applied in several situations in the power systems. As far as the power electronic components in the grids are concerned IoT can be used in the following scenarios.  Performance monitoring of the power electronic components is essential for fault-free, accident-free, sustainable operations. IoT provides several advantages as its sensors can be deployed easily on and around the power electronic components. It is a wireless technology and therefore, it can provide information to the servers even there are faults in the conductors. AI and ML algorithms can be implemented using IoT which provides smart switching and controlling options.

 

Measurement and Control of Critical Parameters

In every power grid, there are several critical parameters whose continuous measurements are essential in regular intervals [2]. Power electronic components are widely used in these measurements. In order to get better accuracy and reliable backup, IoT can be used alongside the power electronic components. For instance, the field excitation in the alternators in the hydropower plants is provided by the rectifiers which take a fraction of the generated AC from the alternator output. The field current has to be controlled accurately. It is possible when the rectifier performances are monitored accurately and follow up actions are taken immediately. Using IoT, minor fluctuations in the rectifier performances can be monitored. In addition to that temperature, current, and voltage changes can also be kept under control using IoT based monitoring and protection mechanisms. IoT based control is much better than the traditional approaches. In the IoT based control almost all the parameters can be managed properly and the situations can be visualized in a better way. Many large scale control systems such as the supervisory control and data accusation system (SCADA) need wide range of support from IoT. Power electronic components in large power grids can be controlled through IoT based SCADA.

 

Safety, Protection and Monitoring of Power Electronic Components

Safety and protection are essential for the long term sustainability of the power systems. Several safety and protection initiatives are adopted in the power grids to protect the important power electronic components. Despite that, we find the accidents and failure of the grids. Using IoT based approaches protection and safety can be improved significantly. For instance, both high temperature and vibration reduce the life span and accuracy of the power electronic components. However, tracking and limiting these parameters in the safe range is possible through IoT using appropriate sensor-actuator pairs [2].

 

Programmability and Implementation of AI and ML

Programmability and Implementation of AI and ML Programmable power electronic components are preferred in the dynamically changing scenarios such as power grids. IoT provides suitable logical setups for the programmability of the power electronic components. AI and ML are good enabling technologies for smart operations of the power electronic components. They need smart and advanced switching fabrics for their effective implementation. IoT provides these smart arrangements through its sensors and actuators which are not possible in the traditional approach.  Overall, IoT assisted power electronics is found to be much more efficient in the modern power grids than the standalone power electronics.

 

 

References

  1. M. Takamiya, K. Miyazaki, H. Obara, T. Sai, K. Wada, T. Sakurai, “Power Electronics 2.0: IoT-Connected and AI Controlled Power Electronics Operating Optimally for Each User,” in Proc. of International Symposium on Power Semiconductor Devices and ICs, Sapporo,   2017.
  2. S. K. Routray, et al., “Narrowband IoT (NBIoT) Assisted Smart Grids” in Proc. of IEEE International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Smart Systems (ICAIS), pp. 1454-1458, Coimbatore, 2021. 

 

This article edited by Jorge Martinez

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

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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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