Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

ABB pilots distribution automation technology in Germany

Iain Morris
October 7, 2014

Technology player ABB has flagged its involvement in a trial of advanced smart grid technology in Germany as part of the European Union-funded Grid4EU project, aimed at supporting the EU’s 2020 climate and energy targets.

During the trial, ABB (Zurich, Switzerland) developed an automation solution that monitors load conditions on the grid and automatically adapts to changes in demand.

The demonstration saw the grid automation technology fully integrated with the existing local network.

The technology allows existing open ring lines to be switched, says ABB, establishing a direct connection between consumers and generators.

That means local generators can supply power to local consumers, reducing line losses and improving the efficiency of the distribution grid.

The technology can also provide advanced control functions to enhance the reliability of the network and support the detection of faults, such as overloads or voltage irregularities, by the regional network control center.

ABB says it is playing a key role in the Grid4EU partnership, which is one of the largest EU-funded smart grid initiatives, and is participating in three of the six demonstration installations.

The so-called Demo 1 pilot project in Reken, Germany, involves both utility player RWE (Essen, Germany) and the Technical University of Dortmund.

Besides contributing its technical expertise, ABB is also providing remote terminal units to the project, helping to determine the conditions in medium-voltage networks.

The company says these devices could play an essential role by providing an interface between physical installations and the associated control, data collection and monitoring systems.

The project’s objective is to prove that autonomous systems can become an industrial solution for better management of medium-voltage networks, said ABB.

“The implementation of this pilot project is another step in the development of a digital grid”, said Claudio Facchin, head of ABB’s power systems division. “ABB already offers a number of products, systems and services for the automation of distribution networks, ensuring flexibility while maintaining reliability and this is the latest example of how ABB is pushing the boundaries of what is possible with distribution grid automation.”

Results from the pilot in Reken – which, with a population of 14,000 and a growing volume of renewable generation, was described as a model system – are expected to be made available in 2016.
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