The next generation control centres for Smart Grids

At Norwegian University of science and technology (NTNU) we aim at establishing a National Centre for SmartGrid research in co-operation with industries, public bodies and other actors.

The SmartGrid is envisioned as the future intelligent electricity delivery, production and consumption management system. It shall enable a more efficient house-holding with energy, reduce the consumption and allow a large variety of new and greener means of production. This pose a wide range of demanding research challenges involving power engineering, ICT and cybernetics. At NTNU we aim at establishing a national centre for SmartGrid research in co-operation with industries, public bodies and other actors.


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Project summary

Project manager: Kjell Sand, Senior Research Scientist, SINTEF Energy Research

This is a joint project between Departments of Computer and Information Science, Department of Electric Power Engineering and Department of Telematics.

The project Next generation control centres for Smart Grids is targeted towards power system control centres. The planned roll out of Smart Meters, associated communication infrastructure together with more advanced sensors and controls is expected to drastically increase the amount of data and information that needs to be managed and which can be used in power system operation. The project’s main goal is to see how the increasing amount of real time and static data can be utilized most efficiently in order to operate the power system in a safer and more reliable and cost effective way. The project targets two main areas:

  • Utilization of the increasing amount of available data in order to detect , avoid and manage network failures
  • Management Structure for operation and maintenance in smart power grids, including proposed structure of centralized operational support and distributed automatic intelligence in order to monitor and operate smart power grids in a more reliable and cost efficient way.

The main Objective of the project is to propose future control and system infrastructure in order to operate the next generation of smart power grids, included research and development of methods and infrastructure for data utilization, visualisation, detection of emerging failures, centralized and decentralized operation and controls.

Secondary objectives include:

  • Research and demonstrate how data can be used more efficiently in order to monitor and control power systems to increase effectiveness and avoid failures.
  • Propose a structure for data acquisition and communication based on current and future sensors and communication interfaces, included the roll out of smart meters.
  • Ensure more reliable, flexible and adaptive monitoring and controls in power systems by taking advantage of the increasing information available.
  • Provide a software decision support system that analyzes current status and prediction of possible failures in power supply networks and support fault management.
  • Collect results from the above and develop a demo room to test and demonstrate prototypes and to provide a venue to demonstrate possibilities and the interaction between centralized and local control for the future smart grid control centre.

Frontiers of knowledge and technology

Utility control centres today mainly perform the following tasks:

  • Grid monitoring
  • Fault management
  • Revision planning
  • Optimising grid topology i.e. optimal configuration
  • Management of customer requests and providing customer information
  • Generation management to some extent
  • Management of switching operations

Transformer stations e.g. typically132/22kV or 66/11kV are normally well equipped with measurements and remote controlled switches and circuit breakers, while the MV distribution system feeders and distribution substations are far less equipped. It is expected that the work processes of the control centres will be heavily influenced by the deployment of Smart Grid technologies. More measurements both in distribution substations and with customers (smart metering) will both give new opportunities and challenges for grid operations. Much more data will be available and needs to be managed in and efficient way to support control centre operations. The information can also trigger new services and functions.

This situation is quite new and needs to be addressed. An internet search on Smart Grid Control Centre gave approx 550 hits (August 2010) and most articles give information on future, planned research, demonstration or pilot projects. Thus, the area is still immature and R&D is necessary to reduce the risk in Smart Grid deployment also from the control centres’ perspective.

Research tasks

The project is based on the general expectation the deployment of Smart Meters and new sensor will drastically increase the data volume to be managed by Distribution and Transmission System Operators. The research tasks are targeted against how the network can be designed and how the increasing data volume can be utilized efficiently in order to operate and manage the network in a safer and better way.

Based on the project goals the research tasks are divided into the following work packages:

  • WP 1: Control centre tasks and work processes including data and information mapping
  • WP 2: Scenarios for Smart Grid Control centres: Use cases, future concepts and problems to be addressed
  • WP 3: Smart Power Grid Operation and Management
  • WP 4: Decision support to the control room
  • WP 5: The next generation control centre for smart grids

WP 1 and 2 are targeted against collection of domain knowledge and increased understanding of current status and needs including future scenarios of operation of smart power grids. WP 3 and 4 are focused on research covering design and new operational concepts for the future operation of smart power grids designing infrastructure, data acquisition and decision support in the network based on findings in WP 1 and 2. WP 5 is designed to coordinate and collect the project findings in a general concept that can demonstrate future concepts and methods for the industry.

A total of 5 positions (2 PhD students and 3 Post Docs) are included in the project within the following areas

  1. PostDoc 1: Control centre task and work process scenarios (WP1, WP2 and WP5)
  2. PhD 1: Platform Specification and prototyping (WP3)
  3. PhD 2: Operation and management - Optimization of structure and functionality (WP3)
  4. PostDoc 2: Decision making algorithms (WP4)
  5. PostDoc 3: Data abstraction methods (WP4)

The PhD students will have their main focus within either of WP 3 or 4 but shall also be heavily involved in WP 1, 2 and 5.

Details of work packages:

WP 1 –Control centre task and work processes including data and information mapping

WP responsible: Kjell Sand, Senior Research Scientist, SINTEF Energy Research

The objective of WP1 is to carry out an initial study of the current status with respect to Control Centre tasks and work processes in order to establish a common understanding of the subject and the main challenges from the research point of view. WP1 is of particular importance in such a multidiscipline project with many participants outside the power- engineering domain. The study will involve workshops with all project participants and partners and visits with demonstrations from existing control centres. The focus will be to survey control centre tasks with emphasis on how ICT tools and systems are supporting grid status visualisation and decision-making – and which data are available and how they are utilized today. The result of WP1 will be a common knowledge base and terminology serving as a basis for all project activities documented in a Technical report.

WP2: Scenarios for Smart Grid Control centres: Use cases, future concepts and problems

WP responsible: Kjell Sand, Senior Research Scientist, SINTEF Energy Research

The project is based on the general expectation the deployment of Smart Meters and new sensor will drastically increase the data volume to be managed by Distribution and Transmission System Operators. But the possible impacts for utilities and power companies are under discussion and will remain so for the near future. To prepare for the future WP 2 will elaborate a set of scenarios and thus describe possible futures concerning for the Smart Grid Control Centres. Such a high level forward thinking activity is necessary to identify relevant problems and options in order to shape next generation control centre. The outcome will be a set of high level scenarios for overall concepts combined with a set of more detailed so-called use cases describing control centres’ desired behaviour in response to requests. Especially, use cases related to power system monitoring (including visualisation), controls and decision making are of importance in the project as these will be further addressed in WPs 3-6

WP 3: Smart Power Grid Operation and Management

WP responsible: Poul E. Heegaard, Associate Professor, NTNU Department of Telematics

Next generation operation centres need to manage and operate both new and heterogeneous smart grid components and communication networks. New smart grid components can distribute functionality with autonomic monitoring, filtering, operation and management.

The different aspect of a management system is considered in different planes. Operation plane are operations under normal behaviour while management plane includes monitoring, configuration, diagnosis, and countermeasures in case of abnormal situations. Knowledge plane are policies related to operation and management actions.

This work package consists of two main activities addressing the constructive (WP 3.1) and operational (WP 3.2) aspects Smart Grid operation and management. The basic idea is to bring the state-of-art and research front in communication network management to enhance and to meet the new challenges in the management of smart grids. This is expected to bring significant new knowledge into the field of management of autonomous distributed system in general, and to smart grids management in particulate. The research tasks are detailed below.

WP 3.1 Platform Specification and prototyping

(1 PhD, supervisor Finn Arve Aagesen, Professor, NTNU Department of Telematics)

Specification and prototyping of network-based platform for operation and management of smart grids is addressed through the following research tasks: • Architecture: Identify and specify smart grid component and component system ontology (types, parameters)

  • Operation plane: identify component and component system functionality types; Operation platform: network type requirements and solutions, component and component system support requirements and solutions.
  • Management plane: design and specify functionality for configuration, deployment, instantiation, monitoring, fault diagnosis, and adaptation, and management platform support functionality requirements and solutions
  • Knowledge plane: investigate which functionality can be defined by policies to support the functionality in the operation and management plane; Platform support for policies (requirements and solution)
WP 3.2. Operation and management - Optimization of structure and functionality

(1 PhD, supervisor Poul E. Heegaard, Associate Professor, NTNU Department of Telematics)

Optimization of component structure and functionality is addressed through the following research tasks:

  • Architecture: investigate the optimal by a combination of off- and online, centralized and decentralized structure the (semi-autonomous) functionality under strict real-time, dependability and security constraints.
  • Operation plane: investigate the configuration of triggers, alarm generation.
  • Management plane: investigate the optimal strategy for sampling, filtering and aggregation of monitoring data
  • Knowledge plane: investigate and optimize (semi-autonomous) management policies including proactive and reactive reactions, reconfigurations, and adaptations to changes in status.

WP 4: Decision support to the control room

WP responsible: Pinar Öztürk, Associate Professor, NTNU Dept of Computer and Information Science

Operators in the control room monitor a large amount of data today and the amount of data will most possibly increase in a future smart grid. Overload of data and information will create a problem that needs to be addressed. This WP aims to develop a smart system that analyses the real time data stream, detects the indications of anomalous events, and suggest preventive or repair actions. Since many of such events/situations may be re-occurring, the network should remember past similar situations (and how they were solved) to use them in handling new problems. Hence, decision-making mechanisms that use experience-based reasoning will constitute the main focus in this WP. Two subtasks involved in this work are described below.

WP.4.1 Data abstraction methods

(1 PostDoc supervisor Helge Langseth, Professor, NTNU Department of Computer and Information Science)

The types of data required for different types of decision support (i.e., prediction, diagnosis and planning) in smart grid will be identified. The data then will be analyzed to extract patterns and rules needed for detection of anomalies/events on the smart grid. Training and testing data will be generated using simulations. In addition, real measurement data series may also be used for this purpose. The abstracted data and the association rules will serve as input to the decision-making algorithms (task of WP 4.2).

WP.4.2 Decision making algorithms

(1 PostDoc, supervisor Pinar Öztürk, Associate Professor, NTNU Department of Computer and Information Science)

A hybrid intelligent decision system will be developed where possibly a rule-based and experience-based reasoning mechanisms are combined. The nature and working of the grid may be involving some abstract general rules as well as some episodic occurrences. Using knowledge about these, the system will detect the undesired situations in a stage where preventive actions can be taken or when repair actions are required to be taken, and suggest the appropriate actions. It will also support off-line planning, for example, changing equipment on the grid in an effective way. The WP aims to identify the types of situations/experiences that frequently occur regarding prediction/prevention, diagnosis/repair and planning in a smart grid, represent them, and re- use in prevention/diagnosis/planning in the current situation of the grid.

WP 5: “The next generation control centre”

WP responsible: Kjell Sand, Senior Research Scientist, SINTEF Energy Research

To establish a control centre show room is the objective of WP6 and will serve as a “project laboratory”. A show room where new control centre features are demonstrated has an important role in facilitating interaction and communication between partners – in particular with people working in control centres. To evaluate new features and technologies is far better done by seeing prototypes compared with reading “reports”. The show room will be well integrated with The Norwegian Smart Grid Centre laboratory infrastructure as well as having communication with real data from external control centres and from field sensors and smart meters. A high standard “show room” will also provide benefits when receiving visitors as well as for educational purposes and training. The show room will utilize software platforms from project partners, especially Powel’s tools “Smart Grid Portal” and “Grid Operations” – see www.powel.no. Also hardware, sensors and protection devices etc. from project partners (Scandinavian Electric, ABB, Siemens..) will be utilized and tested in the “show room” supporting the prototypes from WP3 and WP4.