Modernizing the Electrical Grid

Can today’s utilities respond to increased demand for renewable energy, the addition of IoT devices to the network, and a fast-growing population? Indra offers a new look at traditional grid operations that reflects the arrival of IoT, automation, and predictive analytics.   

 

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Image credit: Indra

By 2050, the world’s population is estimated to reach 9.7 billion—a 26 percent increase from 2019’s 7.7 billion. As the population grows, demand for water, gas, and electricity is expected to double or even triple. Utilities don’t need a crystal ball to know that modernizing their networks will be a necessity for any future roadmap.

Increasing demand isn’t the only change driving utilities to upgrade their networks. Utilities are also adjusting to consumers’ desire for renewable energy options as well as an influx of new IoT and smart devices. Clearly, these rapidly approaching changes make modernizing existing grids central to every utility’s future.

Distributed Active Grids

Indra, a member of the Intel® IOT Solutions Alliance, envisions a future of Active Grids that have a distributed architecture versus the current centralized architectures. In these more scalable and efficient grids, edge intelligence, IoT, and real-time distributed integration improve operations and customer experiences while allowing new business opportunities.

In Indra’s vision, an Active Grid is:

  • Dynamic and adaptive
  • Flexible and interoperable
  • Intelligent

Indra, in partnership with Intel, has developed the Active Grid Management (AGM) suite that facilitates the dynamic, proactive, distributed and intelligent operation of medium and low voltage networks. AGM supports:

  • Proactive grid operation
  • Situational awareness
  • Fast edge decisions
  • Seamless interoperability
  • Scalability
  • Distributed decisions
  • Zero-touch deployments

Australia University Preps for Zero-Net Emissions

Monash, Australia’s largest university, deployed a solar and battery storage-based renewable energy microgrid that is managed by Indra’s Active Grid suite. The microgrid, which covers 20 buildings, 1MW of solar, 1MWh of storage and 2 EV chargers, was designed to help showcase how a 100 percent renewable-powered city can operate. Beyond being a fully functioning local electricity network, Monash’s microgrid is intended to be a future trading market, with dynamic optimization of resources interacting with an external energy market.

Based on internal research, Indra expects the microgrid will allow the university to generate 7 gigawatt hours, which can power 1,000 homes for a year.  The microgrid’s energy savings and focus on renewable energy aligns with Monash’s $135 million Net Zero project, which has the goals to achieve zero-net emissions by 2030 and reduce the university’s dependence on fossil fuels.

To get the microgrid up and running, the Australian government provided Monash with $100,000 in seed funding for the proof of concept. The first phase, when completed, will electrify 80-plus campus buildings using renewable energy and then transition all the university’s energy demands to 100 percent renewables by 2030.

Keeping operations running smoothly is a top priority. The Indra IoT platform controls all the assets connected to the microgrid and processes the data for the analysis and real-time calculation engine that monitors the quality of energy supplies. The nodes also share information and connect to a variety of devices and infrastructure.

In a press release, Tony Fullelove, Director of Monash University's Net Zero Energy Program, said, "In less than three months, Indra and Monash have installed a fully operational platform capable of not only retrieving data from measurements in solar photovoltaic facilities, distribution transformers, and smart building management systems, but also sending orders to all of them in only a fraction of a second."

The university plans to add predictive asset maintenance and a peer-to-peer market in a future phase.

Renewable Energy Advocates Form Platoon for Greener, Healthier Planet

In another Active Grid project, Minsait, an Indra company, is working with PLATOON (Digital PLAtform and analytic TOOls for eNergy) to push forward the development of renewable energy solutions and resources. PLATOON will lead efforts to design and develop new solutions and coordinate the operations among renewable generation companies and their consumers to increase consumption of renewable energy. The solutions will help the companies forecast and maximize the value and availability of what they generate in the energy system, and they will increase network reliability and efficiencies through predictive maintenance and analytics.