SOGNO consortium visiting Kilkenny Castle, 2018
The distribution grid faces several growing challenges that will continue to adversely affect the stable and reliable supply of power to customers. These challenges take numerous forms, from increasingly adverse weather conditions introduced by changing weather patterns and climate change (such as storm Ophelia in 2017), the introduction of more volatile Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) and the cybersecurity concerns associated with expanded numbers of ICT enabled grid assets, and an ever-present focus on a move to a more “smart” distribution grid. Each of these factors have the potential to negatively impact the resiliency and reliability of the energy network.
H2020 Smart Energy project
The H2020 funded project Service Orientated Grid for the Network of the Future (SOGNO) aimed to solve the above concerns by creating intelligent, automated software services supported by low-cost measurement devices installed on the grid and 5G data communications to mitigate disruption on the distribution network. These software services support the operation of the distribution grid in two areas 1) by increasing system awareness through monitoring the state of the grid and power quality evaluation and 2) by providing autonomous self-healing services through fault resolution (FLISR) and load and generation forecasting. The measurement devices and software services are designed to be as low impact as possible with regards to installation and deployment. Supported through an overall system architecture defined in the first year of the project and tested on four distinct trial sites throughout Europe, located in Ireland, Germany, Estonia and Romania, each trial site focused on a differing combination of SOGNO services to determine their effectiveness in various operating environments.
South-East trial site
For example, one of the Irish trial sites located in Passage East, Co. Waterford, was selected for both its complexity and its proximity to the coast leading to higher increments of fault events due to harsh weather conditions, making the area an ideal candidate for testing the effectiveness of SOGNO services. This trial used a combination of low-cost advanced power measurement devices (APMUs) and existing pole-mounted devices enhanced with supplementary communication technology. In addition, legacy data sources were utilized to enable the deployment and supply of required data to the SOGNO services.
Such a wide range of trial sites brings with it many challenges which were met by a diverse project consortium based in Germany, Italy, Estonia, Romania and Ireland. The TSSG worked with project partners to define the SOGNO system architecture and worked closely with ESB Networks to realise the SOGNO services on the Irish trial sites. This was achieved by providing the infrastructure and software for data collection & visualisation, geographical visualisation of the trial site grids and an implementation of the Fault Location, Isolation & Service Restoration (FLISR) concept to automate the identification of faults and recommended steps for resolution on the Irish trial site grids.
Cross border collaboration
The FLISR application was a collaborative effort between ESB Networks, Northern Ireland Energy (NIE) and TSSG with academics from both ESB Networks and NIE developing a decision tree of fault events and resolution steps for a section of network in Passage East. The TSSG then used this decision tree to develop a generic software algorithm applicable to all sections of network, which identifies when and where a fault event has occurred and recommending restoration steps to ESB Network operators via email & SMS message.
A large part of the final year of the project took place against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, with all project meetings and interactions moving completely online including the final advisory board and review meetings. For a project with such a large focus on real-life trials, this presented additional complications in ensuring SOGNO services and measurement devices were deployed and producing the expected result. Despite these challenges, the project was a great success achieving an excellent review from the European Commission which is a testament to the work carried out by all the project partners.
While the SOGNO project is now complete outputs from the project, such as the system architecture, are being utilised in other EU funded projects, including Platone and EdgeFLEX. The TSSG is actively contributing to the EdgeFLEX project as work package leaders and continues to work closely with ESB Networks to apply some of concepts from SOGNO to other smart energy projects.
With the difficulties presented in a world undergoing an unprecedented event like COVID, the success of SOGNO demonstrates that valuable research can still be achieved despite these challenges.