Communication as a pre-requisite for Smart Grids

The linking of the users of Smart Grids in the distribution level does not exist today. The information and communication technology (ICT) ends as a rule in the 110 kV/ MV substations. However, in the future the ICT has to reach the electricity sockets of the consumers. In principle, the communication infrastructure exists in all territories. It should be consequently used for the data transfer to execute the Smart Grid tasks. Various physical links may be mostly efficient in different locations, e.g. telecommunication cables, radio or distribution line carrier "DLC". For economical reasons the most  efficient  connection has to apply.

In the framework of Web2Energy the existing communication network of HEAG Medianet GmbH will be extended so that all clients of the "Smart Distribution Grid" will be connected. One of the tasks is to approve and if necessary improve the behavior of the communication network. For example, it is requested that the communication between clients happen within seconds. Information security is another issue. Information shall go only to whom it concerns. Information access is strictly protected. The reliability of the communication network also needs special attention. If a telecommunications cable is interrupted, the situation shall be monitored immediately and alternative connections must be established automatically –for example, via another channel with other physics like radio. The Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands will support the HEAG Medianet GmbH to introduce the most innovative solutions regarding security and performance standards.

When the communication network is in operation and all connections are installed, it is still not guaranteed that each client understands the information from the others. Each client has to apply the same data models to estimate which information was sent – a price signal or a power measurement for example. Furthermore, special services shall be identical. The assignment of a time stamp with 1 ms resolution to the events is such a service. This kind of identity is solved by IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) communication standards However, for historical reasons today a lot of communication standards and proprietary solutions are available in practice.

The Web2Energy project is consequently oriented to apply the data models and services of the very successful standard series IEC 61850 used until now in substations. This standard will be adapted to the needs of distribution networks and renewable energy sources. This process is ongoing in IEC. In the framework of the project Web2Energy all existing definitions of the standard will be applied. Furthermore, new impulses for extensions and corrections will come from Web2Energy project through the application in the practice.

The new needs detected in Web2Energy will be included into the further standard work immediately by the experts from the Swiss and Dutch company UTInnovation and the German company NTB Technoservice. These experts have many years of experience with the standardization bodies and play a leading role in IEC as a convenor of the related working group. The uniform implementation of the IEC 61850 protocol into the devices and control centers is supervised by the Otto von Guericke University of Magdeburg – supported by its partner the Russian enterprise Deplphin Informatika.

Web2Energy is the only ongoing project where development and standardization are driven in parallel. This is good news for users as well as vendors. The vendors are able to develop and manufacture products based on IEC 61850 which provide interoperability and exchange information in the manner of "plug and play". That creates competition benefits on the world market.

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