Electricity Grid 2.0

What if we could start again

In the days when DC converters didn’t exist, it made sense to base our electrical distribution system on transformers and AC voltage level shifting. It still makes sense to distribute at high voltage where resistive losses in the wires are a smaller issue than they are at lower voltages. But if we were starting again, what would that look like?

 

The Grid From The Ground Up

A new approach to electricity distribution

A new formula for electrical distribution

IEEE Spectrum have published the results of discussion on just this topic and it caught my eye. We develop products for high voltage distribution including switch gear and power factor correction controllers so I also have personal knowledge of what goes into those. The full article is at The Grid From The Ground Up – What If We Could Do It Again?

 

A summary of the core issues we could resolve are covered below.

 

High Voltage Direct Current Transmission

Use High Voltage Direct Current, or HVDC, as the transmission standard. This is now possible whereas 100 years ago it was not. As much as anything this is a legacy issue. The electricity link between Tasmania and Victoria that runs under Bass Straight uses this technology for instance.

 

High Voltage Direct Current Distribution

HVDC Distribution

Renewables at any level

And we would design it to cope with any level of Renewable Energy sources. This is one of the inhibiting factors for the use of fluctuating energy sources and traditionally it was considered that 8% was the maximum you could have. Germany recently showed this wasn’t the case with a German Renewable Power Contribution of 59%. There is still plenty of work to do but this is an example that some of the old paradigms are not absolute limits after all.

 

Sources of Renewable Energy

Renewable Energy Sources

Resilience

Another issue is the robustness or Resilience of the grid. This refers to the ability of the grid to recover from transients and faults. The Northeast Blackout of 2003 showed that a lack of Resilience is a major weakness. If you aren’t familiar with the incident then check out the following short video on what happened and wider implications for not having Resilience.

 

Regardless of the source of the issue, we have to be able to quickly isolate faults and not lose complete grid control. A Resilient grid is a must.

 

Communication

This is one of the things needed for Resilience. All generation and transmission facilities should be able to communicate so that the system can be coordinated. This is sometimes referred to as the Smart Grid and a lot of work has been done to create robust, widespread and secure communications to measure and control the operation of the Electricity Grid. One example is DNP3 which is widely used by Power Factor Correction Controllers, Reclosers, Sectionalisers, RTUs and control systems to monitor and manage the Electricity Grid.

 

An example of a DNP3 enabled device is the ABB CQ900R Power Factor Correction Controller which for which we received the Industrial Electronics Future Award in 2011.

 

ABB CQ900R Smart Controller

ABB CQ900R Smart Controller with DNP3

 

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for nearly 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2014 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Local Casey Electronics Business Wins National Awards

We have been pretty busy so far this year preparing several new products for both the Australian and International markets including an advanced DNP3 enabled power controller for the American Smart Grid initiative. So it was a pleasant interruption to this when we received news that our local Council wanted to run a feature on us for their business magazine.

 

City Of Casey

 

The City Of Casey In Business Magazine recently featured Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd following our national recognition with 2 national awards in the technical areas of Analogue Electronics Design and the use of Electronics Design Software in bringing advanced Electronics products quickly to market.

 

Check out what the City Of Casey have to say about us in this extract from their In Business Magazine, “Casey Electronics Business Wins Innovation Awards“. You can see the full In Business Magazine here City Of Casey In Business Magazine which not only has an article on Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd but also on another local company, Paint Tek. Paint-Tek is run by a good friend of ours and they specialise in custom surface coatings and treatments. Ross also runs Can-Tek who specialise in pre-gassed aerosol cans, contract aerosol packing and a range of water and solvent based aerosols in retail, commercial and industrial grades.

 

You can check out the full story on all our awards at Successful Endeavours awards.

 

It was an honour to be recognised by our city council together with other small business owners in the City of Casey, a municipality in the outer south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne.

 

Ray Keefe has been developing high quality and market leading electronics products in Australia for nearly 30 years. For more information go to his LinkedIn profile. This post is Copyright © Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.