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depsys Distribution System Tool Drives COVID-19 Utility Digitalization

Feb. 2, 2021
depsys empowers Distribution System Operators to take first steps towards operational digitalization in response to COVID-19

COVID-19 and the associated lockdowns around the world have created significant changes in energy consumption patterns, as well as limited the ability to send utility staff into the field. As electricity is considered a vital commodity, the electricity sector is highly challenged to provide continuity of service in terms of both stability and quality of supply during the pandemic.  

In response to this crisis, depsys, a Swiss cleantech company, is giving electricity grid operators visibility and control with GridEye, a smart grid solution, to contribute to the successful handling of the lockdown implications. Specifically, this has resulted in offering distribution system operators (DSOs) the opportunity to immediately monitor the quality of their electricity supply at critical locations such as hospitals, by monitoring their medium voltage (MV) and low voltage (LV) networks. 

The pandemic has forced the introduction of more agile and flexible work procedures in a very short timeframe, including the ability to access key information remotely from any location. The depsys GridEye solution provides the perfect response thanks to its quick, simple installation and web-based interface access. 

First step towards operational digitalization.

The first step towards digitalization is relatively easy as the GridEye solution can be installed in the field quickly and without any support. Within as little as 30 minutes, key data can be transmitted to the distribution network control facilities and more importantly, field staff can access the GridEye platform to observe the network remotely from their screens. Implementing alternative forms of measurement devices generally requires longer installation times, calibration and on-site activities before anyone can retrieve data and monitor the network. Following the installation of the first GridEye device, grid operators can get valuable information about the performance of their network. 

The GridEye software modules offer the following:  

  • Grid Monitoring to monitor networks in real-time.
  • Visual Statistics to analyze historical grid measurements, including customization and capture of key events
  • Power Quality Analysis to monitor the power quality continuously according to EN50160 (European Standard-.’Voltage Characteristics of electricity supplied by a public distribution system’), including the ability to retrieve the detailed oscilloscopes of the power quality events 

The GridEye software receives data from GridEye devices, each of which includes a measurement control unit (MCU) and at least one sensing unit Rogowski Coil (SUR). The MCU is a key monitoring, analysis and control unit. Placed at strategic points all along the grid, it provides not only distributed and synchronous measurements that are essential for the GridEye solution’s analysis and services, but also an entry point to the control of many assets on the grid.

The MCU provides a measurement of 3-phase voltages, including true root-mean-square (RMS) amplitude, industrial frequency, up to the 50th harmonic and inter-harmonic, total harmonic distortion of sub-group harmonics and unbalanced voltage.

The SURs allow the measurement of up to 12 currents, mappable to any voltage for power and energy computation. The GridEye devices are Class A certified according to the EN61000-4-30 standard for power quality measurements. The MCUs communicate to a Management System by default via GSM/GPRS. Still, other communication channels can be set up via two IEEE-1588-compliant Ethernet ports as well as two isolated RS485 Modbus RTU ports.

The GridEye device is installed on the LV side of a MV/LV transformer, sending measurements to the management system as soon as it has been installed. Following quick configuration, the data is visible on the GridEye platform, and operational staff can monitor or retrieve real-time data about the network quality, namely current, voltage and power quality directly from the online platform. They are also able to confirm that the network voltage and current levels are within the acceptable limits for the duration of the monitoring period. Furthermore, operational staff can verify the network remains secure should they wish to change load flows on sections of the network.

The GridEye solution is also a valuable diagnostic tool in the event of a network fault. Thanks to the visibility and confidence in this simplified process, resolving faults can be achieved much faster, by quickly localizing the problem and handling the restoration of supply remotely, thereby saving time and avoiding unnecessary travel. In parallel, the level of stress for operation staff is dramatically reduced.

About the Author

Bruno Alluisetti

Bruno Alluisetti is with depsys SA, a Swiss technology company

About the Author

Marianne Tamborini

Marianne Tamborini is with Swiss technology company depsys SA.

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