By embracing a digital future, intelligent digital substations are helping unlock more value from the facilities and its connected assets. But accelerating the adoption of digital substations industry-wide involves addressing a variety of serious challenges.
Transforming binary status and analogue data into a digital form without a hitch, near enough, digital substations allow data transmission to occur seamlessly between points so it can be better harnessed, made use of and actioned. They also offer other benefits too, like enhanced safety, reliability and clearer sustainability efforts, can drive interest and investment.
But expediting take up and implementation of these facilities is faced with hurdles: like with many other forward-looking initiatives and incentives, the wider roll-out of digital substations requires industry-wide collaboration, idea-sharing and pre-agreed standards and protocols to aid with transition, as well as training a workforce to plug the already growing skills gap.
Infrastructure accelerating adoption of digital substations
Hitachi Energy has announced an all-new SAM600 3.0 processing interface unit to accelerate the adoption of digital substations. This will also enable advanced automation and communication applications to help utilities tackle the challenges of future power grids.
The process interface unit (PIU) builds on the strength of previous SAM600 models and is critical for digital substations. It’s just one of many technologies pioneered by Hitachi Energy to enable and accelerate digital substations globally — playing a crucial part in keeping pace with the expanding complexities of modern network demands.
"As the complexity and dynamics of power generation, transmission and distribution continue to grow, modern digital substations provide the control and efficiency needed to address these challenges,” Claus Vetter, Head of Automation and Communication at Hitachi Energy. “The new SAM600 helps operators extend the life of their existing assets, delivering much-needed investment protection and new levels of system.”
As a merging unit, SAM600 3.0 also lowers the carbon footprint of digital substations for operators as it streamlines processes — meaning there is only one device to engineer, wire, test and commission. And, as technology in this area continues to evolve, the technology will further accelerate digital substation adoption and enable advanced automation to help utilities tackle the challenges of future power grids.
Digital substations in action
General Electric (GE) has a wealthy portfolio of digital substations worldwide. The multinational conglomerate has more than six years of experience in this area and has delivered more than 100 digital substations across 27 countries globally.
Over at Siemens, the brand hails digital substation technology an example of the present creating opportunity to shape what’s to come by saying ‘the future is now’, paving the way as to how this corner of energy transmission will progress. By allowing the heart of power supply to be digitised, it consequently becomes the core of energy data communication – and added value as a result.
Hydro-Québec, for example, utilises Siemens’ speciality in this field to modernise its substation in Saint-Chrysostome in Québec, just north of Canada’s border with the US, noting it as “ushering in a new era of substation automation”.
Despite not being the first utility to adopt certain standards to modernise its substations, National Grid was the first in the UK to digitise its transmission substations fully. It believes the benefits of fully digitising substations outweigh any challenges that present themselves. The move came as the US and UK energy company worked on strategy to develop a highly intelligent transmission network to meet the long-term needs of its customers while adapting to the rapidly changing energy landscape.
Rudy Wynter, President of National Grid NY said: “Now, as we look to the future and the evolving needs of our customers and policymakers, we must invest in and create the grid that will enable the decarbonised, distributed energy future — safely, reliably and affordably. This is an example of how we are doing that.”
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