As the grid becomes increasingly digitalized and decentralized, distribution automation become increasingly important to adjust changing loads, generation, and failure conditions in real time. Unfortunately, we are still a long way from this future says Zpryme research analyst Chris Moyer In a recent article.
According to Moyer, the grid of the future will be a “hyper-connected ecosystem that easily distributes data across devices. He adds, “while utilities do a nice job of collecting data, it is not easily shared between devices.”
Distribution automation solutions will play an important role in this hyper-connected grid of the future, as the ability to adjust on a real-time basis to changing loads, generation, and failure conditions of the distribution system becomes increasingly important.
4 steps to a DA future
Moyer identifies 4 steps utilities can take to prepare for data-driven DA.
1: Create a DA roadmap
It is imperative that utilities create a DA roadmap to identify where they want to modernize, and then work toward a large scale, well-integrated deployment. Today, 70% of utilities are either not deploying DA, employing a single application, or implementing a variety of non-integrated point solutions.
2: Prioritize modernization
Automating key areas of the distribution network will deliver reliability, system stability, and safety for utilities. Therefore, choosing the most critical equipment to automate is important to success. Today, the three priorities for utilities are reclosers, voltage regulators, and capacitor banks.
3: Connect key systems
Utilities still have a long way to go to completely digitalize advanced metering infrastructures and integrate them with systems such as GIS platforms, which is a necessary step in understanding real-time demand on the grid.
4: Create a platform for connection
A strategic approach to software implementation is necessary to avoid a proliferation of non-integrated, siloed applications. The proper IT infrastructure can integrate AMI, OMS, SCADA, GIS, and other systems crucial to distribution automation in a modern utility.
Pick the low-hanging fruit
There are opportunities with low-hanging fruit to develop better visibility across the data and control systems you already have today. But a communications network that is flexible and capable of accommodating diverse systems is key.
The network must be able to read data from meters, sensors, capacitor banks and other smart assets from across the distribution network. What’s more, the network solution’s software platform should be able to accommodate multiple applications to analyze the data and provide actionable insights to utilities. These insights will allow utilities to control every meter, every sensor and all smart assets across the entire service territory.