"By 2020, there are supposed to be abuot 40 million electric vehicles on the road worldwide, but we don't have the infrastructure to charge them yet," said Bob Furry, general manager and vice president for EPM commercial operations at Ventyx, as he began to enumerate the many challenges the worldwide electrical infrastructure will face in the coming years. "In addition, many renewable energy sources need to be connected to the grid, but they're remote, and so we're going to need many more high-voltage dc transmission lines. So, we'll also need more distributed grid management to optimize the grid, and help secure the added capacity we'll need. Also, we must simultaneously increase reliability to prevent blackouts and brownouts, and enable quicker responses to limit outages when they do occur."
These goals can be accomplished with better data gathering, processing and analysis about the grid and its generating, distribution and consumption aspects, Furry said. This is why ABB and Ventyx—which ABB acquired a year ago—are collaborating to integrate their grid operations technologies with information technologies (IT). Other efforts needed to reach these goals include advanced metering infrastructures, distribution grid management, asset health management to handle aging hardware, coordination of renewable sources, and even Ventyx's Virtual Power Plant software to better present operations information to aid forecasts and efficiencies. Furry presented "A Smart Grid Vision From Source to Socket" this week at ABB Automation and Power World in Orlando.
Unfortunately, despite the willingness of many utilities and consumers to use these new smart grid tools, most efforts are still in the very early "initiating" phase. On the grid operations side, Furry said initiating means:
- Business cases for new equipment and systems related to smart grid are being approved.
- New sensors, switches and communications technologies are evaluated for grid monitoring and control.
- Proof-of-concept projects and component testing for grid monitoring and control are underway.
- Outage and distribution management systems linked to substation automation are being explored and evaluated.
- Safety and security (physical and cyber) requirements are being considered.
Meanwhile, on the workforce and asset management side, initiating means:
- Enhancements to work and asset management have been built into approved business cases.
- Potential uses of remote asset monitoring are being evaluated.
- Asset and workforce management equipment and systems are being evaluated for their potential alignment to the smart grid vision.
"Some recent examples of our progressing to the smart grid include EV management capabilities, the combination of workforce management and distribution management functions, and the addition of demand response into the market so users have more choices," Furry explained. "For instance, one of our customers used our software to optimize his power generation on the source side, and is now seeking to use the same tools to optimize demand and supply on the consumer side."