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Smart Grid: Applications & Components

The Smart Grid Services/Applications refers to systems, including computers, programs, databases, people, and operational support to manage the applications. The Smart Grid Components refer to the devices, sensors, and controllers that provide information to the Smart Grid Services/Applications and receive the command to effect control of devices.

Smart Grid Services/Applications

The Smart Grid Services/Applications in conceptual domains are listed below:

  • Customer Domain
    • This domain consists of several sub-domains: home, commercial/building, and industrial. Hence, the applications can be categorized into energy store, management and generation for home, building, and industrial, respectively.
    • Besides the basic functions within a building and home such as lighting and temperature control, energy management system (EMS) is a core application providing the capability for in-home/building display of customer usage, reading of meters, and integration with building management systems and the enterprise, and remote load control, monitoring and control of distributed generation, the EMS provides auditing/logging for system troubleshooting and security purposes as well.
  • Operation Domain
    • This domain consists of the applications for distributed network operation, including the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems to monitor and control the status of devices in bulk generation, transmission, and distribution domains.
    • Operation domain also consists of the applications for general operations, including the asset management and meter data management (i.e., energy usage, energy generation, meter logs, and meter test results) to make energy data available to authorized parties.
  • Service Provider
    • This domain consists of applications such as customer and account management and installation management. Customer management is to manage customer relationships by providing point-of-contact and resolution for customer issues and problems. Conversely, installation management is to install and maintain the premises equipment that interacts with the Smart Grid.
    • Service provider domain also consists of applications such as billing/ account management, home management, building management, and others. In particular, building management is to monitor and control building energy, and respond to Smart Grid signals while minimizing the impact on building occupants. Home management is to monitor and control home energy and respond to Smart Grid signals while minimizing the impact on home occupants. Billing management is to manage customer billing information. Account management is to manage the supplier and customer business accounts.
  • Markets
    • The main applications include the distributed energy resource aggregation, wholesaler and retailer marketing. To be specific, retailers sell power to end customers and may play aggregation role as a broker between customers and the market. Most of the retailers are connected to a trading organization to allow participation in the wholesale market.
    • Other applications include dynamic pricing, trading, and market management. Traders are participants in markets and include aggregators for provision and consumption and curtailment and other qualified parties.
  • Bulk Generation
    • The main applications in this domain include bulk generation plant control, measure, and traditional energy generation. In particular, the plant control permits the operations domain to manage the flow of power and ensures the reliability of the system. Measurement is used to provide visibility into the flow of power and know the condition of the systems in the field remotely.
    • Other applications include renewable energy generation and storage.
  • Transmission and Distribution
    • The main applications within these two domains include distributed energy generation (i.e., wind, solar, thermal), distributed storage, substation, and local distribution network monitoring and control. Substation management and control contain switching, protection and control equipment, i.e., sub-stations connecting generation (including peaking units) and storage with distribution. Substations may also connect two or more transmission lines.
    • Other applications include local network monitoring and control used to measure, record, and control with the intent of protecting and optimizing the operation of electricity transmission and distribution.

Smart Grid Components

The smart grid components include all physical devices associated with the electrical grid. The devices are units which provide the following energy-related functionalities:

  • Home/ industrial automation;
  • Advanced metering; and
  • Intelligent grid control and management.

The devices in customer domain include meter, customer appliances and equipment, distributed energy resource (solar, wind and others), electric vehicle, home (industrial) gateway, thermal storage, solar generation, sensors in home area network, and demand control device. The description of some devices is listed below:

  • Meter: It refers to the point of sale device used for the transfer of electricity and measuring usage from one domain/system to another. Note that meter has an interface with other domains such as operation, provider, and distribution domains. In this regard, as shown in Figure 3, a meter can be a separate device connecting other domains;
  • Customer Appliance and Equipment: A device or instrument designed to perform a specific function, especially an electrical device, such as a refrigerator or TV, for household use. An electric appliance or machinery that may have the ability to be monitored, controlled, and/or displayed;
  • Distributed Energy Resource and Storage: Energy generation resources, such as solar, wind, and others, used to generate and store energy (located on a customer site) to interface to the controller of HAN to perform the energy-related activity;
  • Electric-Vehicle: A vehicle driven primarily by an electric motor powered by a rechargeable battery that may be recharged by plugging into the grid or by recharging from a gasoline-driven alternator;
  • Customer Premise Display: This device will enable customers to view their usage and cost data within their home or business;
  • Home Area Network Gateway: An interface device between the distribution, operations, service provider, and customer domains and the devices within the customer domain.

The devices in distribution domain include the distributed data collector, automation field devices, control and automation devices (Remote Terminal Unit (RTU) & Intelligent Electronic Device (IED), distributed sensors, and others. The description of some devices is listed below:

  • Distribution Data Collector: A device collecting data from multiple sources and modifying/transforming it into different forms;
  • Automation Field Devices: Multi-featured installation devices meeting a broad range of control, operations, measurements for planning, and system performance reports for the utility personnel;
  • RTU and IED: Those devices receive data from sensors and power equipment, and can issue feedback control commands, such as tripping circuit breakers if they sense voltage, current, or frequency anomalies, or raise/lower voltage levels in order to maintain the desired level to make the system stable;
  • Distribution Sensor: A device that measures a physical quality and converts it into a signal, which can be read by the observer to measure the status of electricity distribution network.

The devices in the operation domain include control devices (Transmission/ ISO/RTO/ Distribution SCADA), computing/ information storage servers, computers, and network equipment and others. The description of some devices is listed below:

  • Transmission/ ISO/RTO/ Distribution SCADA: A type of control system that transmits individual device status, manages energy consumption by controlling compliant devices and allows operators to directly control power system equipment. Based on it, the operation domain can monitor the status of electricity generation, transmission, and distribution and control them;
  • Management Stations (i.e., EMS, DMS, and others): A number of management stations for EMS and meter data management system (MDMS). To be specific, EMS is a system of computer-aided tools used by operators of electric utility grids to monitor, control, and optimize the performance of the generation and/or transmission system. The monitor and control functions are based on various SCADA systems described above. The MDMS is the system that stores meter data (e.g., energy usage, energy generation, meter logs, meter test results) and makes data available to authorized systems. ISO/ RTO station refers to the power system control, providing high-level load management and security analysis for the transmission grid, typically using an EMS with generation applications and network analysis applications.

The devices in the service provider domain are listed below:

  • Computing and Networking Equipment: Those devices are used to conduct the normal business operation for utility provider and third-party provider, including billing, aggregator, retail and other applications.

The physical devices in marketing domains are listed below:

  • Computing and Networking Equipment: Those devices are used to conduct the normal business operation, including the energy market clearinghouse, trading, retailing, DER aggregation and market management.

The devices in bulk generation and transmission domains:

  • Plant Transmission Control Equipment, Electric Storage, Transmission, Remote Control Unit (RCU), Substation/ Measurement/ Control/ Monitoring Equipment: Those devices are used to control power plant, store electricity, control electricity transmission, power transmission monitor and control, and other purposes.

About Ahmed Faizan

Mr. Ahmed Faizan Sheikh, M.Sc. (USA), Research Fellow (USA), a member of IEEE & CIGRE, is a Fulbright Alumnus and earned his Master’s Degree in Electrical and Power Engineering from Kansas State University, USA.

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