Technical article: Simulating, monitoring and controlling networks in real time

July 2023

Digitalisation of the distribution grid for efficient operation in Töging

strotög GmbH is the municipal energy supplier for local residents and businesses in Töging. To ensure that grid operation runs even more efficiently and smoothly and that a high level of supply security can be guaranteed, the strotög employees rely on digitalisation in combination with electrical measurement technology.

Economical digitalisation of the distribution grid

The municipal utility is one of the GridCal users. GridCal supports energy suppliers on their path to economic and efficient digitalisation of the distribution grid. The secret lies in the combination of decentralised and centralised components. In the local grid stations, the GridCal Node ensures that all important information is recorded in high resolution, processed sensibly, analysed and made available for on-demand retrieval. The grid information is customised and displayed via a web browser. This allows the grids to be simulated and monitored simultaneously and participants in the grid to be controlled in real time. “The most convincing feature is that not only the transformer, but also the entire low-voltage outgoing circuits with the power flow directions are measured”, emphasises Christian Reiter, electrician at strotög.

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In the future, the majority of the 40 or so transformer stations owned by strotög GmbH in its grid area will be equipped with the GridCal solution. Source: PQ Plus

“Another point: the data on site is stored in the station and not in a cloud, and you can retrieve the data directly from the local network station when you need it. The high-resolution raw data remains in the local substation.”
Christian Reiter’s areas of responsibility include all work in the low-voltage grid, such as laying cables, installing cable distribution cabinets and house connections, maintaining street lighting and, last but not least, installing the GridCal digitalisation solution.

As soon as the grid stations are equipped with the GridCal nodes, the GridCal operator can collate all the essential information from the individual grid cells in the control centre. Andreas Vogl emphasises the advantage: “If we have more digital stations in the grid, we can connect them with each other via the GridCal Operator. GridCal also provides an overall solution where everything fits together from top to bottom. Remote access is already part of the system, including the VPN connection. The user interface is very easy to understand and clear.” With GridCal, utilities swap estimates and assumptions for real knowledge based on actual measurement data. Christian Reiter emphasises the high level of flexibility when making changes or extensions as an advantage: “The system is also very easy to work with.”

In the local grid stations, the GridCal Node ensures that all important information is recorded in high resolution, processed in a meaningful way, analysed and stored for on-demand retrieval

From evaluation to commissioning

“We looked at other systems and also attended an event,” emphasises Vogl with regard to the evaluation process. “It was like the first Microsoft Windows: it all looks nice, but nobody knows whether it actually works. When exchanging information with other energy suppliers, colleagues criticised the fact that the energy flow direction was missing in their systems. Other systems may seem more favourable at first glance, but we also want to be able to see in which direction the energy is flowing.”

He is certain that a system solution with all the necessary accessories as well as simple and very quick installation more than compensates for the low additional costs: “With the solutions from PQ Plus, there is already a certain quality in the background. In contrast to new providers, there is a great deal of trust in PQ Plus. You can benefit from their experience in measurement technology.”

The sales process with PQ Plus was well received and Reiter liked it: “I was already there at the first appointment for the presentation of the system at our company. Until then, I didn't even know that such systems existed on the market. The regular web appointment with Netzgesellschaft Niederrhein was also very informative.”

He continues: “The deeper we got into the whole topic, the more information was available about PQ Plus and PSInsight.” A seminar for grid operators and the two days of installation and commissioning training at PSInsight were also very helpful for him.

The GridCal system in a walk-in local network station

Experience from assembly

According to Christian Reiter, installation is going very well. “Commissioning is a bit more difficult for me,” he admits. He lacks experience with IT, especially when it comes to handling tablets. But he still managed it well. In the meantime, he has worked out a concept of where to install what, how to set up the cable routes and also the installation systems. “I try to implement this in every station so that each station has the same appearance,” he adds. In his opinion, the support from PQ Plus was “definitely important and very helpful”. Andreas Vogl illustrates this with a specific example: “At the first station, there was a problem with swapped wires. The plus and minus of the 24 V supply were mixed up. The station didn't work at first. Not every case can be played out on the training course. Nervousness can quickly spread. Together with PQ Plus, we localised the problem and rectified it. As a result, you learn a lot in practice at your own station and gain experience for the next station.”

In the local network stations, the GridCal Node ensures that all important information is recorded in high resolution, processed sensibly, analysed and stored for on-demand retrieval.

Plans and challenges

What’s on the agenda now? “Four stations are equipped,” emphasises Vogl. "Five to seven more stations are to follow this year. We are starting with the priority stations. The plan is to implement the GridCal Operator next year.” The majority of the existing local grid stations are to be equipped with GridCal in the long term.

But there are also challenges. “We have a well-developed grid due to the size of our area and the past,” explains Vogl.

“As the Inn plant supplied cheap electricity, we have many electric heating systems. The overhead lines have been completely converted to underground cables. The political situation is now leading to new requirements: People are supposed to install heat pumps, drive electric cars and install PV systems. We used to calculate 3.6 kW per household in the grid area. We are now a long way from that.”

Difficulties arise particularly in established areas where PV systems, heat pumps and charging stations are suddenly being added. “Before huge investments are made here and the old lines are replaced with new ones, it is easier to analyse the existing distribution grid with GridCal”, says Vogl. “If, for example, several PV systems are installed in a local grid and the outputs are simply added together, this quickly adds up to large sums.”. “For him, it is more important to consider normal operation and not the worst case. This means that investments in grid expansion are much more targeted.”, he adds.

With the GridCal solution, not only the transformer but also the low-voltage outgoing circuits with the power flow directions are measured

Digitalisierung des Verteilnetzes zum effizienten Betrieb in Töging

Die strotög GmbH ist der kommunale Energieversorger für die Bürger und Unternehmen vor Ort in Töging. Damit der Netzbetrieb noch effizienter und reibungsloser funktioniert und eine hohe Versorgungssicherheit gewährleistet werden kann, setzen die strotög-Mitarbeiter auf Digitalisierung im Verbund mit elektrischer Messtechnik.

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