The electric grid will soon emerge as the “grid of things” just like the internet is evolving as “internet of things”. The evolving smart grid of the 21st century will be drastically different, so too will be the opportunities for utilities to take advantage of the grid’s increasing capabilities. Such a grid requires thoughtful integration of technologies and innovative solutions to churn existing grids into a more sustainable, flexible and efficient electrical network system.
Deploying an Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) is a fundamental step towards growing smart grid modernization. AMI is not a single technology, but rather an integration of many technologies that provides an intelligent connection between utility operators and consumers. AMI market is estimated to grow from USD 10.06 Billion in 2015 to USD 19.52 Billion by 2020, at a CAGR of 14.2% (as per report by MarketsAndMarkets in Dec 15).
AMI provides information & data that can be used to optimize business operations such as system engineering, maintenance and customer service. Further, in today’s scenario, customer engagement and satisfaction is not only enabled through timely provisioning of commercial information (i.e. revenue metering etc.) but also through sharing of qualitative information regarding consumption, load management, power quality parameters, etc. allowing them to make informed decisions for using electricity wisely and effectively. In parallel, with PQ monitoring becoming critical as regulations are being framed around it, so the question is “how can utilities plan AMIs that enable to do PQM”?
This blog emphasizes the importance of capturing & monitoring Power Quality data through Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) to ensure better distribution management and customer loyalty.
NEED OF AMI FOR PQ MEASUREMENT & MONITORING
Expanding use of electronic equipment and other non-linear loads has led to an increased need for higher power quality. Apart from reliability of supply, customers are more and more interested in power quality, which especially applies for sensitive consumers such as hospitals, industry, customers with electronic equipment and computer centres, etc. Power Quality in the low voltage (LV) network and consumer premises, is largely unmonitored and, generally speaking, not well understood. It is often controlled/measured on an irregular basis, using portable power quality analysers. Many a times, it is measured only after PQ disturbances are noticed or reported by a customer. Hence, there is a need for utilities to consider integrated Information & Communication Technology (ICT) solutions for improving overall operational efficiencies such as AMI.
Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) provides bi-directional communication and facilitates measurement & monitoring of consumer data through Smart Meters installed at customer premises. The premise of AMI is that it collects all the data about power quality available in the smart distribution network, into a single system. The significance lies in the number of smart meters planned to be installed in the distribution network and in the possibility of getting information about power quality directly at the points of customer connection.
AMI facilitates power quality monitoring that helps in interpreting raw measurement data into useful information. Power Quality Monitoring (PQM) is often driven by the demand for improving the system wide power quality performance as many industrial and commercial customers have equipment that is sensitive to power disturbances. Therefore, it is more important to understand the quality of power being provided. Using AMI, in addition to power quality improvement, additionally benefits the utility to manage customer accounts more promptly and efficiently, remotely connect and disconnect service without having to send personnel to the customer site, etc. Similarly, many maintenance and customer service issues can be resolved more quickly and cost-effectively through the use of remote diagnostics and control.
HOW AMI PLAYS A KEY ROLE IN POWER QUALITY IMPROVEMENT
One of the most attractive and practical add-on functions of the AMI system, offered by different producers, is real-time reporting of outages and power quality issues. Power quality data from customer meters that are distributed throughout the feeder can help determine the location and cause of a power quality issue. AMI systems can track key measurements (voltage, current, harmonics, equipment status, etc.) within minutes from strategic locations across the distribution network. This greatly empowers distribution utility operators with the information needed to make informed decisions during crisis conditions.
For example, an AMI meter can detect that an electrical parameter (such as voltage, current, or load) that has varied from a specified threshold for a certain period of time and send a message to the central server. Upon receiving notification of such conditions, the Distribution Management System (DMS) runs the system optimization program and initiates appropriate actions to restore optimal conditions. AMI acts like a “Black Box” on an airplane that informs utilities what, when, and where a Power Quality event occurred to prevent it from reoccurring.
Some other key benefits of using AMI for PQM
PQM provides a continuous health check of a facility’s power system. Using AMI for PQ Monitoring has following benefits:
- Depending on the vendor and type of the meter, it can register PQ events like power interruptions, overvoltage/voltage swells, under voltages/voltage dips, and measure voltage, current, frequency, voltage harmonics and current harmonics (THD and individual harmonics).
- Increase in revenue by implementing performance-based rates by providing customers a view of their power quality.
- AMI also forms the basis for turning meters into sensors to the benefit of energy efficient programs, distributed energy resource by providing granular and near real-time data on power quality.
- With the improvement in power quality, there will also be less I2R losses as well.
CHALLENGES INUSING AMI FOR PQ MONITORING
Some of the significant challenges of using AMI technology for Power Quality Monitoring purpose are:
- Logging Capabilities of smart meters: Today’s state of the art smart meters often has an insufficient number of registering channels to log all the power quality parameters the smart meter can measure, i.e. the smart meters are not able to log all the possible power quality parameters at the same time.
- Bandwidth throughput of the AMI communication infrastructure: The number of measurement points and the potential volume of additional data related to PQ could burden communication technologies beyond specified limits.
- Time sequencing: The time of event (power outages, over& under voltages, etc.) is essential for correlating power quality events between different instruments. For correlation of data, the start & end time of the measurement intervals needs to be synchronised in order to compare the interval measurements of voltage, current, frequency, harmonics etc.
As power quality gains more importance due to regulations, new generations of smart meters and AMI will have to support newer requirements for meter data capture and transmission.
With stricter regulatory requirements being imposed for maintaining quality of electricity supply, PQ is ought to be an important aspect of the smart distribution grid. There is a need for a Power Quality Monitoring System which would integrate all the power quality data available from various systems of smart distribution grid. Future smart grids will have to respond to these requirements and ensure the supply of electricity according to new power quality standards. This demands that Indian Electric Utilities take advantage of the substantive smart grid investments planned over the next decade to establish an AMI that is extensible to provide the granularity of data needed from time to time and hence prepare themselves for improving their PQ thresholds.
Realizing the smart grid of the future through AMI technology by elster solutions
Integrated Power Quality Monitoring Systems in smart distribution grids by Mustafa Music, Adnan Bosovic, N. Hasanspahic and ElvisaBecirovic, September 2012.
NETL Modern Grid Strategy Powering our 21st-Century Economy ‘ADVANCED METERING INFRASTRUCTURE’ by the National Energy Technology Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy, February 2008.
Smart Meters to Monitor Power Quality at Consumer Premises by Michael Campbell, Neville Watson, Allan Miller, University of Canterbury, June 24-26, 2015.
Introduction to Power Quality Monitoring by Syed Khundmir T,University at Buffalo,2013.
Power quality analysis for electric utilities by Schneider Electric.
Power Quality Monitoring by D.Maharajan, SRM University, 2012.
Secure Key Management Scheme For AMI In Smart Grid by Mohammad HosseinYaghmaee and AzadehJavidHassani, CIRED Workshop – Rome, June 2014.