Advanced automation needed to achieve smart grid success

Paul Boughton
According a new report, a radical overhaul of policy and technology is needed for the USA to reap the benefits promised by the smart grid. Sean Ottewell reports.

The oversight policy of the US electrical grid has been described as a hodge podge in a new report published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Industrial Performance Centre. In its report Electricity Transmission Policy for America: Enabling a Smart Grid, End-to-End, the Centre calls on the federal government to develop a coherent national policy on transmission upgrades and standards for the smart grid, and on the electricity to industry to develop a secure and sustainable approach to providing electric power (Fig.1).

The report stresses the importance of creating nationwide smart grid standards, backed up by legislation that clarifies that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has high voltage transmission planning authority over transmission owners, operators, developers as well as related local, state and federal agencies. FERC should also be empowered to set clear timelines for completing transmission planning, review, modification, and approval, it says.

Meanwhile, the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) announced in September a US$120m state-wide initiative to speed the adoption of the smart grid in the state. IIT is leading the Illinois Smart Grid Collaboration with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), the State of Illinois, the City of Chicago, Village of Oak Park, Galvin Electricity Initiative, and more than 50 companies to make Illinois a hub for the effective innovation, validation, deployment and evaluation of Smart Grid technology. This initiative seeks to bring US$60 million in federal stimulus money to Illinois to lower electricity bills, reduce black-outs, make energy cleaner and create green jobs.

"This collaboration will help create an electrical grid that is secure and reliable," said Illinois governor Pat Qinn. "This investment will create jobs and ensure Illinois families and businesses have access to technology that will lower their energy use, and their energy costs."

"We believe the Smart Grid Demonstration Project, coupled with the smart grid investments being made in the Chicago area by corporate and community partners will be of great value to the residential and corporate citizens of Chicago," said Chicago mayor Richard M Daley. "This initiative is vitally important to stimulating the growth of new, green jobs in this emerging economic area, and we look forward to the possibilities this project can bring to the city."

Meanwhile the Californian utility Burbank Water and Power based in Burbank intends to convert its power supply network into a smart grid. To achieve this it has contracted Siemens Energy to implement a meter data management system. The system provided by Siemens and its smart metering partner eMeter, which is headquartered in San Mateo, California, is based on the meter data management software Energy IP.

This software supports current and future smart metering-applications and business processes on the basis of the advanced metering infrastructure AMI. The solution will not only enhance customer services through shorter and more precise billing intervals but also improve information, workflow and peak load management.

Energy IP will also support load control programs at Burbank Water and Power, with the software enhancing energy management and thus resulting in energy savings. The system achieves this through timely delivery of interval data thanks to automatic meter reads. Load control decisions are taken based on this data and checked to establish whether consumption has thus changed.

"With our customised smart metering solution we will support Burbank in the setting up of a smart grid foundation. Today, we are the sole global provider with project experience in all fields relating to smart grids," said Ralf Christian, ceo of the power distribution division within Siemens Energy.

Energy IP's strengths encompass its open software architecture and scalability, and its comprehensive data management functions. That includes the acquisition and management of meter data and the conditioning of this data for billing and metering management. The software also features an integration platform, with which the digital telemeters of various manufacturers can be linked to the information systems of the utilities. Energy IP can thus be deployed for the processing of meter data in smart grid projects.

In early 2008, Siemens Energy and eMeter concluded a partnership in the field of smart metering with the aim of jointly marketing the Energy IP meter data processing software worldwide. Siemens is utilising its global competence in smart grid solutions and its all-round systems and project expertise in the field of smart metering.

Industrial automation solutions

As Siemens is showing, development of the smart grid depends crucially on the new technology solutions. Rockwell has also risen to this challenge with a new portfolio of smart, safe and sustainable manufacturing solutions that it says could help companies save up to US$6 billion a year - about 10 per cent of the total US industrial electrical energy costs - by capitalising on smart grid initiatives with existing technologies.

The new smart, safe and sustainable manufacturing portfolio includes a series of plant-wide energy optimisation tools that create an integrated industrial energy management system based on Rockwell Automation industrial automation and information technology. It also will allow manufacturers to perform real-time load-balancing of their industrial processes, bring renewable energy sources online and execute demand response strategies connected to the Smart Grid.

"The manufacturing sector is responsible for almost a third of US energy consumption, primarily by driving loads with electric motors," said Sujeet Chand, chief technology officer for Rockwell Automation. "While recent smart grid demonstrations have focused on benefits to homes and commercial buildings, we look forward to working with manufacturers and electric power companies to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions as industrial processes consume less electricity."

"Today, manufacturing and information technologies are converging at a rapid pace to create a new industrial renaissance.

"At the heart of this renaissance are smart manufacturing solutions that blend the best in people, physical assets, business processes and data, and seamlessly connect the plant floor to the enterprise, the supply chain and the customer. This advanced integration helps businesses achieve higher levels of productivity and competitiveness.

"Using existing industrial automation and information technology with these new advances, manufacturers can view, control and optimise plant-wide energy use today and be smart grid-ready."

"Until now, manufacturers had to make decisions without knowing how energy directly affects their production costs and impacts the bottom line," said Terry Gebert, vice president and general manager of Rockwell Automation Global Solutions. "By combining overall equipment effectiveness, a key performance indicator used by many manufacturers, with an energy model to create an energy blueprint - or greenprint - for any production process, we can develop a long-term strategy for smarter energy use."

Gebert emphasised that manufacturers can begin to capture actual energy use and add it to their bill of materials and other production records.

With smart manufacturing solutions, an entire plant's energy consumption can be optimised. Information on real-time energy usage flows from machine to machine and across production lines, and intelligent machines can monitor and manage their own energy use. Plant-floor energy use data can then be networked into enterprise business systems and connected to suppliers and utility companies.

This novel approach to industrial energy management starts where most electricity is used - machinery and motor control. Using 'inside-out' integrated energy management, Rockwell Automation says it can provide a real-time energy greenprint by individual loads, machines and lines, more effectively manage peak demand for the plant, predict the overall impact of production changes on energy use, and ultimately automate production for optimal energy consumption across the enterprise.


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