Automation, Integration Investments for New and Retrofit Substations Poised for Continued Growth

Nov. 21, 2017
The Newton-Evans Research Company has released findings from its newly published North American volume

The Newton-Evans Research Company has released findings from its newly published North American volume: the first of four volumes of research titled, "The World Market for Substation Automation and Integration Programs in Electric Utilities: 2017-2020." The new study compares the current round of research findings with several earlier substation modernization tracking studies conducted by the firm. A total of 65 large and mid-size North American electric power utilities actively participated in this multi-part study. 

Newton-Evans Research estimates the current mid-range of North American spending for substation automation and integration programs approaching, or perhaps reaching, one billion dollars in 2018. Global potential spending for substation modernization programs is estimated at about $40-$50 billion over the long term. This amount includes spending for a wide range of intelligent substation-resident equipment and devices and the manpower to undertake the systems integration efforts required.

Outsourcing of Substation Automation Tasks:

Sixty-four percent of this year's survey respondents said they either currently require or will soon require third-party assistance for training employees in multiple aspects of substation automation and integration efforts. Fifty-two percent currently need or will soon require assistance for IED configuration and support as well as for cyber and physical security consulting, as per the accompanying chart.

Protocol Usage Patterns:

Findings are similar to those reported in 2014 and in earlier Newton-Evans' studies. DNP 3 remains the most-frequently used protocol within North American substations and from the substations to the external hosts, with SEL Mirrored Bits now a close second. This year's survey found a higher incidence of the use of SEL Fast Message protocol than in previous years; 40% of this year's survey respondents said they use or plan to use SEL Fast Message vs. only a few respondents in 2014.

Additional topics being covered in the four-volume series of substation automation studies include in-depth coverage of several communications topics, vendor security certification requirements, external systems linkages to the substation, preferred equipment suppliers, and an assessment of how North America's electric power substations are positioned along a three-step path to complete automation.

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