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April 23, 2014
IEEE ISGT 2013 Conference in India - The Trend of Smart Electric Distribution Networks
By: Zitong Song

I was pleased to have an opportunity to present my research work at the IEEE 2013 International Smart Grid Technology (ISGT) conference in Bengaluru, India from November 11-13, 2013. It was a grand gathering of people from both academia and industries to discuss the current development of smart grid around the world.

Almost all of the topics related to smart grid technologies—from transmission systems to distribution systems—were discussed. These topics included large renewable generation integration; smart initiatives in the planning, operation, control and protection of large interconnected systems; load management and demand response; and energy storage and the grid.

My presentation was related to the application of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) data to smart distribution network analysis. Therefore, the smart technologies developed for a distribution network were my main focus while attending the conference.

My presentation focused on a new heuristic logic method for network reconfiguration to eliminate the overloaded loading conditions of an electric distribution network. In traditional low-voltage electric networks, due to the smaller amount of electric data from end-consumers, the precise loading conditions for the entire network are not aware. Consequently, the overloading conditions cannot be eliminated the first time, which jeopardizes the network reliability. With the availability of AMI data from end-consumers, the new heuristic logic method can be developed to relieve the overloading conditions and maintain network reliability.

Another author, Anurag Sharma, proposed in the paper, “A Multi-Agent Approach for Service Restoration with Distributed Generation,” that a quick service restoration under fault situations can be implemented with distributed generation islanding without any reconfiguration process. The paper also indicated that the contribution of electric vehicles, storage and controllable loads in service restoration will be considered in the future work.

Similar to the reconfiguration capability, self-healing technology is another key method to maintaining the reliability of the smart grid. Sandeep Pathak from Schneider Electric proposed a “Decentralized Self-healing Solution for Distribution Grid Automation.” In this solution, all the remote terminal units (RTUs) communicate in a peer-to-peer way to detect, isolate and restore the grid in a short time. The RTUs are built in with a self-healing grid (SGH) algorithm, which includes two phases to fulfil a complete cycle. The first and second phases are differentiated by downstream and upstream signals. The communication method is via general packet radio service (GPRS).

As Director of GE, John MacDonald indicated in his panel presentation, the distribution network development is transited from devices/system management to holistic solutions. The future distribution network will be as flexible as possible via self-healing and reconfiguration capability to enable end-consumers to participate in the network operation. In GE’s smart grid technology road map for utilities, the distribution network infrastructures (substations, switches and breakers, voltage/var devices), communication infrastructures and consumers are integrated together based on big data management and cloud technologies. The details of this road map are displayed in Figure 1.

Smart Grid Technology Roadmap

Therefore, the emerging smart technologies will have an impact on the network reliable operation, such as the integration of renewable energy, but will also provide alternative methods to help maintain and even increase network reliability. With the development of smart grid technologies and more grid data available to system operators, the electricity can be flexibly and safely delivered to end-consumers.

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