Transmission Automation

IT and OT transform critical grid functions

Grid stability is one of the crucial concerns of power transmission companies. Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) play a crucial role in maintaining grid stability and other critical functions such as automating grid management, improving grid visualisation, reducing down time by improving detection and decreasing restoration time. Power Line invited leading transmission utilities to share their learnings and experiences with respect to IT and OT applications…

What have been the key areas of IT and OT adoption by the company recently?

B.B. Mehta

Gujarat has the largest transmission network and caters to a peak demand of 15,000 MW (with a peak load of 15,143 MW as of May 19th 2016). Further, 5,195 MW of installed renewable capacity has been integrated into the system. The long coast line of 1,600 km is impacting the life of transmission assets. Gujarat has already implemented intra-state availability-based tariff (ABT) accounting of 76 pool members.

Gujarat has adopted many IT- and OT-based technologies and solutions. In the area of grid operations, capture of data from renewable energy sources, scheduling and energy accounting, operational decision-making as well as grid monitoring are being done on a real-time basis.

For analysing grid behaviour in real time, a wide area monitoring system (WAMS) project using phasor measurement unit (PMU) data has been implemented. Also, analytics is being used for analysing PMU data. The development of energy accounting and scheduling software with automated meter reading (AMR) solution has also been undertaken. An automated demand management solution has been implemented by the state. We have also undertaken upgradation of the existing supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system. We have developed an online web-based wind generation forecasting application for anticipated wind generation in the system.

For real-time transmission system operation, some solutions being deployed are substation automation, digital substations and telecommunication systems. Some of the system support solutions that have been deployed are optical ground wire (OPGW), geographic information system (GIS) mapping and remote terminal units.

Sanghamitra Pyne

West Bengal is one of the best performing states in the power sector. West Bengal State Electricity Transmission Company Limited (WBSETCL), as a state transmission utility, caters to the transmission requirements of the entire state.

Having achieved consistently high levels of availability of the transmission system, WBSETCL is concentrating on the technical aspects and increasing the quality of supply. There has been a significant amount of line, tower and substation enhancements for strengthening the system. The financial parameters of the company have also been quite healthy. With a rise of about 22 per cent over the previous year, the turnover of the company was over Rs 12 billion in 2015-16 with a profit of Rs 4.37 billion.

In the process of technical enhancement, a number of steps to deploy IT and OT have been taken. Many IT-based systems, which used to run in silo modes, are being consolidated and a central data centre has been set up. Technology tools are being used for both business and technical process re-engineering within the company. Intra- and inter-company document management is now being done with extensive use of web-based tools as well as the corporate email system. E-processes are being used extensively for improved interface in the government-to-government and government-to-consumer environment. For citizen-centric processes like recruitment, the company exclusively uses transparent e-processes on its web portal. WBSETCL has been using e-procurement channels for all its procurement to ensure better transparency. The installation of biometric systems has enhanced the ease, quality and security of business processes.

In the OT segment, the company is installing a huge OPGW network for SCADA by using its own towers and it is almost at the completion stage. Apart from the laying of the OPGW network, the SCADA system has already been revamped completely. The OPGW network may be used for other purposes as well in the future.

M. Ananta Rao

Once a month, the energy flow data from the extra high tension (EHT) grid is locally collected using laptops in over 120 EHT grid substations using proprietary software supplied by the meter original equipment manufacturer (OEM). Then, the substation forwards such data through email to the energy accounting and settlement system centre (EASSC) located at the state load despatch centre (SLDC). EASSC team members download the energy meter data from emails and process the same in the EASSC to fulfil energy accounting responsibility. This monthly exercise of collecting the meter data, which was earlier done manually, was prone to delays and thus leading to delays in publishing the energy accounting statement for taking further billing and other actions by the stakeholders.

Odisha Power Transmission Corporation Limited (OPTCL) introduced advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) systems in its EHT grid at all grid-interface points. This has helped obtain the 15-minute demand integration period (DIP) energy flow data from all interfacing points on the fly through AMI systems. Thus for every DIP, the energy flow data is available at the EASSC within a couple of DIPs.

The data concentrator units (DCUs) are equipped with dual SIMs of GPRS service providers to have redundancy in communication to the meter data acquisition system (MDAS) at the server end. In addition, the datacom backbone is used to fill the gaps of GPRS footprints in the state. This operational technology helped OPTCL in drafting a reliable staggered energy dashboard for use by the stakeholders. As the data displayed is also used for energy accounting (0.2S Class energy meter data), there is no gap between the display and energy data processing.

The system is highly useful, reliable and efficient. Further, it gives confidence to the utility to graduate to shorter periods of energy accounting, as there would be no human intervention in accomplishing the tasks. IT systems are already in place to process the energy data for the EASSC works. Although the AMI system provides facilities to reset the drift in real-time clocks of energy meters and capable of tripping the feeders, these facilities are yet to be implemented in OPTCL.

What have been the key learnings and experiences?

B.B. Mehta

We have demarcated the key areas of IT and OT applications into short-term and long-term deployment. Short-term deployment does not require large investments and financial benefits are easily visible. Further, technology is available and compatible with the existing assets, and useful for understanding future long-term deployment. Whereas, in long-term deployment, it is required to be an identified system globally and this can further overcome limitations of the existing system.

IT and OT deployment has helped the utility in many ways. We have been able to capture real-time data at the control-centre using various communication systems. The installation of SCADA PNA software as well as a WAMS project with synchrophasor has helped us upgrade our existing system. We have also developed a scheduling and energy accounting software. A project for wind generation forecasting has also been put in place. Our local substations are now enabled with meter data pooling.

With respect to the development of energy accounting and scheduling software with AMR solution, the challenging areas were fulfilling the responsibility entrusted by regulation towards market operation, automatic data fetching from stakeholder websites and minimising manual intervention. Our experience with the project is positive as we have been able to decrease the man-hours required for sending data through mail and are now equipped to handle all complexities in Gujarat’s power network, which has power flowing from different sources.

The challenging areas for the WAMS project were with respect to analytics development, which involved integration of SCADA with the weather information system. Further, using the large quantum of data generated at a fast speed for customised application was also a challenge. Another challenging area under the WAMS project was developing local expertise with respect to PMUs and PDCs, identification of vendors with the right qualifications as well as developing the testing capabilities for PMUs and PDCs. IT infrastructure development for security, handling, transfer and storage of bulk and high speed data was another key challenge for us.

With regard to the implementation of the automatic demand management system (ADMS), a major challenge was compliance with the clause related to on-demand disconnection, under the Indian Electricity Grid Code. Also, the commissioning of the control centre hardware at the SLDC and load management unit (LMU) of the discom as well as installation of field devices at 20 substations covering 100 feeders has been a learning experience.

The major challenges with regard to upgradation and replacement of the SCADA system have been establishing a communication scheme, integrating and validating software, as well as configuring intelligent tools for operational decisions. For the online wind generation forecasting application, the challenging areas were ensuring accurate real-time renewable energy data capturing as well as utilising and configuring web-based wind generation forecasting data for system operations.

Lastly, there were certain challenges experienced in the key areas of grid operation, transmission system operation and system support solution. These included the use of latest technology, minimising manual intervention, and incorporating changes in methodologies in a user-friendly way. Specially designed systems were required to be developed to take care of all market operations of the SLDC. It has been an uphill task to develop successful AMR solutions. The Gujarat Electricity Transmission Company has also experienced some challenges in WAMS power system monitoring and in the development of an IT infrastructure capable of automation for system monitoring.

Sanghamitra Pyne

Based on the company’s experience of the company and the statutory requirements, WBSETCL has realised the importance and need for risk management. It is working on a comprehensive risk management and risk summarisation policy for IT and OT as well as other non-IT and OT systems. Through this, it intends to identify, address, contain and minimise the associated risks including cybersecurity threats. This is also in line with the statutes that have been laid down by the national authorities. The company has also enhanced its disaster recovery centre for SLDC operations.

M. Ananta Rao

Automation of OT gives a clear-cut advantage in operating over the manual systems. Earlier, the process of  collecting meter data used to take a long time before bringing the meter data to the head office for processing. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) had limited capacity and were quickly discharging their battery storage, leading to hurdles in the form of battery recharging schedules. Further, OPTCL had an assortment of meters from the same meter manufacturers having a variety of PROM software. The baud rate of some of the meters was so dismal that it used to take an inordinately long time to empty the data from them and copy it on to a laptop. Ideally, device language message specification (DLMS) meters connectible on Rs 485 daisy chain can give unusually fast response/download time. With the introduction of DLMS energy meters, DCUs with rich connectivity to the meter data acquisition system (MDAS) are the best bet for any AMI project. Further, the DCUs are capable of providing instantaneous data of the meters at the end of every DIP. This enabled the utility to realise the dependable staggered energy dashboard too. With a formidable communication backbone and robust DCUs with MDAS, the energy flow through the EHT grid shall be at the fingertips of the management, enabling them to take the right decisions by all the stakeholders.

The next stage of AMI in audit metering is going to open progressive vistas of fine tuning the EHT grid for its system strengthening initiatives. This will also be helpful in designing optimal self-healing networks as part of the smart grid initiatives in EHT networks.

What are some of the new IT initiatives planned to be undertaken?

B.B. Mehta

  • Implementation of the WAMS project (phase II)
  • Implementation of the load/demand forecasting mechanism
  • Establishment of a renewable energy management centre
  • Implementation of ADMS (phase II)
  • Automation in log sheet data entry
  • Implementation of cybersecurity measures for strengthening IT security
  • E-payment mechanism for external stakeholders (partially implemented)
  • Intimation through email/SMS to external stakeholders regarding services provided by the SLDC.

Sanghamitra Pyne

The ongoing consolidation of the various systems and the data centre is likely to be completed by next year. Further, the utility intends to explore the use of cloud-based technologies, mobile applications and analytics for the handling of some of the system requirements in future. The completion of the OPGW network will also enable further utilisation of the same for the ultimate gain of consumers in the state.

M. Ananta Rao

All EHT towers and substations of OPTCL are already geo-referenced through GPS survey. The spatial data is integrated with enterprise asset data. This helps in managing operational and management functions effectively. Crowd-sourcing facility provided in the GIS project enables the field force to upload mobile photos from time to time to get the ground facts about the EHT assets online. Further, with the integration of cadastral maps data, the right-of-way issues shall be disposed of expeditiously. The road network, river network and reserved forest layers data further helps the utility in planning new EHT lines.

In the backdrop of the successful implementation of ERP covering the operational aspects of the organisation, all the assets, especially engineering ones, have already been codified and are tracked in the ERP system for their location, cost and transactions, both physically and financially. Further, assets of engineering importance like EHT substations and lines of the utility are now georeferenced and are plotted on a digital atlas through GIS software. The decision-making for construction and co-location of lines and towers has now become smoother and more accurate through the adoption of the above computational tools.

Going forward, technological advancement and leveraging decision-making through the existing bulk of data, it has been envisaged to deploy 3D design, simulation and collaboration tools for providing better visibility and visualisation not only during the EHT project inception phase but also for evaluating existing EHT asset performance based on maintenance strategies for early identification and mitigation of failures.


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