ESNA a vision for the future grid
ESNA - A vision for the future grid
How an open-infrastructure approach benefits utilities and consumers alike
ensure utilities and consumers win in the modernization of power grids
across the globe, everyone in the ecosystem needs to consider all the
moving parts involved. An open-infrastructure approach will rapidly lead
to innovation and achievements, while limited, closed approaches will
ultimately kill innovation and benefit very few. We hope this article
will assist all leaders making major smart grid decisions that will
serve many generations.
It’s not just about smart meters
critical issue in defining “smart metering” is that it’s not just about
the meter. It is really about enabling the smart grid -- an
energy infrastructure that runs from
generation to distribution and includes thousands of grid-connected
devices and systems that consume energy.Smart
metering sets the stage for a smart grid “system” offering increased
functionality via built-in two-way communications and smart grid
applications, many of which provide improved and expanded customer
service. Thinking “beyond the meter” and toward an overall system
solution delivers dramatic improvements in utility operations,
reliability, and customer-service capabilities by offering detailed
usage information, demand metering, detailed power-quality data, speedy
outage information and flexible billing options. Smart metering systems
serve as the key information-gathering source and foundation for a smart
grid that helps utilities better manage their operations. The smart
grid also helps customers better manage their energy use, of course.
Utilities need to ensure a high level of reliability and service to
their customers, and this will become more challenging in the near
future because of the additions of renewable energy sources, electric
vehicles and distributed generation. Smart metering and the rest of the
smart grid will make it possible for Distribution System Operators (DSO)
to more effectively and efficiently manage the distribution network.
Smart grid stakeholders – benefits to all
distribution companies and retailers all benefit from smart grid
development. A smart grid can improve management of the transmission and
distribution assets, as well as their generation portfolio, in order to
keep pace with their customers’ increasing electricity usage and peak
demand. For the supplier and retailer, it makes possible and accelerates
the adoption of new services to help them differentiate their offerings
in increasingly competitive energy markets. All of these vast benefits
to utilities also mean, of course, that the consumer wins.
many benefits associated with the smart grid should be viewed
collectively. Think of them as an aggregate of benefits to all parties.
It is very difficult to build a compelling business case around just one
set of benefits to a specific stakeholder. Of course, the consumer, and
society in general, will benefit from the smart grid in part because it
provides a means to energy conservation – by raising consumer awareness
of the cost and impact of electric devices in our homes and offices.
The most obvious direct benefit to consumers will be in the form of
lower energy bills.
smart grid creates an energy network that will detect and address
emerging problems in the system before they negatively affect service.
It will be able to respond to local and system-wide inputs, provide much
more information about broader system problems and, most importantly,
be able to immediately react to or resolve problems that do occur.
Energy empowerment, demand response and services beyond
Figure 1 illustrates the basic smart grid architecture when implemented as an energy control network.
Figure 1. Smart
Grid Energy Control Network – Smart devices and networks of smart
devices, cooperating with control nodes for autonomous action, informed
by rules provided by enterprise applications.
example, demand response (DR) is becoming instrumental in managing the
growing demand for energy, especially where it is combined with new and
innovative pricing plans and consumer energy use portals. The
combination of heightened awareness, an ability to track and manage
energy use and financial incentives will give consumers a sense of
“energy empowerment” that they have never before experienced. This
requires smart metering and smart grid systems that offer distributed
local intelligence at the neighbourhood transformer to effectively
manage the edge of the grid -- where decentralized generation,
electrical vehicles and customers must constructively co-exist.
Future-proof: The case for open smart grid architecture
order to support the various networks and interfaces within the smart
grid now and into the future, one of the most important and basic
requirements is an open architecture. This is to support not only
today’s services and applications but also the provision of new services
and meeting new market demands without replacing the core
infrastructure and associated equipment.
is too often used as an excuse to push a particular technology,
regardless of its actual suitability for the application. Such agendas
manifest themselves as a “choose one standard” technology approach.
Technologies will continue to evolve. Instead of requiring a single
standard, utilities need a smart grid system with an open
infrastructure, one that many companies have adopted and upon which they
have built custom solutions. These solutions may be proprietary to each
vendor, but because they’re built upon a common, open infrastructure
they can be mixed and matched, offering the utility competition,
innovation and choice. Various EU standard initiatives support this type
of approach and indicate there will be many appropriate smart metering
and grid standards, not just one. However, the key factor is that
interoperability will still exist at the higher levels within the
systems enabling a more future-proof solution ready to adopt new
technologies. Figure 2 illustrates a scenario of a residential
autonomous micro-grid that includes electric vehicles, solar energy
generation, smart meters, and smart appliances. Communications within the smart grid devices amongst each other micro-grid occur over power line or RF. The
utility communicates with the micro-grid and devices within the
micro-grid via an intelligent control node located at the low voltage
Figure 2. Managed micro-grid featuring smart meters, appliances, electric vehicle chargers and local power (solar) generation.
future-proof features required in a smart grid system include: advanced
functionality in smart meters, such as power-quality measurements,
remote-firmware upgrades and an open interface for interoperability with
multiple home area network (HAN) technologies; open interfaces at the
head-end applications via standard web services; and open interfaces
along with distributed intelligence at the neighbourhood transformer.
These features will allow utilities to be able to upgrade and add new
devices and systems even after the smart grid system is deployed within
the home, within the electric grid or at the utility head-end the
network. Open Smart Grid Protocol (OSGP) is one example of standard that
delivers these types of future-proof features and functionality. In
addition, OSGP provides an open architecture and infrastructure
supporting both smart metering and smart grid applications.
The truly intelligent grid as a vision for the future
utilities face increasing pressure to reduce their costs and lower
their environmental impact — by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases,
for example — they must fundamentally change their attitude toward power
generation and resource planning. An advanced metering infrastructure
approach will allow utilities to deploy a solution that lets them extend
the smart grid and communications infrastructure to intelligent devices
inside customers’ homes, make power delivery more efficient, reliable,
and safe, and help customers better control their energy use. The ideal
smart metering solution will let utilities and their customers implement
and access a truly intelligent smart grid — meaning one that benefits
both sets of stakeholders — through a variety of technologies.
Mark Ossel, ESNA, and Larry Colton, ESNA