use case 1

IP monitoring tool for supporting advanced grid automation – Use Case #1

In the transition from energy power distribution grids into Smart Grids, the digital layer represents a crucial requirement to guarantee the proper performance of the grid automation framework. In the context of Smart5Grid, this pilot focuses on the monitoring of the communication layer used in the operation of a complex system for Medium Voltage grids’ automatic fault selection. The so-called Smart Fault Selection (SFS) is an advanced grid automation feature developed by E-Distribuzione that is able to localize and insulate the fault and re-power the rest of the grid in less than one second. For its operation, this framework requires a highly performing digital communication layer, that needs to be constantly monitored to guarantee that the grid automation framework is duly operating. The implemented Network Application, running at the edge, allows us to discriminate if the problem is in the radio segment or in the wired segment of the data connection.

Demonstration setup

The aim of this demonstrator is to showcase that the Network Application, in combination with the 5G network, are able to improve the performance of the SFS automation functionality.

As part of this use-case deployment, additional smart devices, such as Remote Terminal Units (RTU) or grid fault detectors have been installed in the 14 power substations included in the experimentation, as well as new automatic power switchgears to guarantee the needed performances for a successful implementation of this automation framework. A total of 19 5G communication equipment have also been installed at a specific section of E-Distribuzione’s power grid, in Olbia surroundings, in the north-eastern coast of Sardinia, Italy.

The 5G Advantage

The current operating automation solutions use either dedicated Optical Fiber (OF) or 4G/LTE connectivity. While OF guarantees the needed communication requirements, it also adds a significant investment cost for large scale deployment of the system, and it also lacks in terms of flexibility for re-deployment of the system in a different location. 4G/LTE offers acceptable connectivity features in normal conditions. However, in periods and locations with congested mobile traffic (e.g., in densely populated areas) the 4G/LTE solution gives no guarantee on the quality of the communication service, and thus endangering the proper operation of the SFS automation system. In this pilot, 14 Secondary Substations in the area of Olbia (Italy) have been connected by a 5G public infrastructure, that conjugates the similar communication performances of the Fiber with the flexibility of a mobile infrastructure.

Key Goals

  • Real-time IP network monitoring: allowing to identify certain quality degradations before they affect the grid automation’s performances.
  • Improved identification of the problem: instead of having a generic information (working/not working)
  • Ex-post automation failure analysis: in case of poor performances of the grid automation paradigms, a more complete analysis of the KPIs will allow to identify the problem and fix it.

The Network Application

In this pilot, the Network Application collects all the data for the communication KPIs’ monitoring. A Graphic User Interface supports the operation team in the IP network performance’s analysis and troubleshooting. Such monitoring is performed in real-time, in a continuous manner. The historical data will then allow an ex-post analysis to understand how the behaviour of the field devices and the IP network evolves during a fault, paving the ground for a more selective improvement of the automation infrastructure.

What’s next?

The final validation will arrive from a real test of the automation framework, where the communication parameters will be duly monitored by the dedicated Network Application monitoring tool.