Technical article: Measure, analyze and optimize

March 2024

As part of the energy transition, we are faced with the task of making the energy supply more sustainable, efficient and reliable. This also requires a significant improvement in the energy infrastructure. A key element here is the quality and efficiency of energy distribution, which can be ensured through modern technologies and systematic monitoring approaches. In an interview with the etz editorial team, Lutz Beyer, Senior General Manager at PQ-Plus, explains how innovative solutions can improve the stability and efficiency of the energy supply.

PQ-Plus' expertise covers a wide range of key topics, such as power quality monitoring in accordance with EN 50160, monitoring of residual currents, measurement of consumption and power, MID-compliant measurement methods and the delimitation of third-party quantities. The company goes far beyond providing suitable measuring devices by offering comprehensive services from the careful selection of measuring technology through installation and commissioning.

Learn to understand low-voltage networks

PQ-Plus has set itself the ambitious goal of minimizing failures and disruptions in energy networks and thus strengthening the stability of the energy supply. The company relies on advanced data collection and analysis methods to effectively use information and carry out targeted optimizations. L. Beyer reflects on the development of the energy transition in the context of the power grid: Originally it was assumed that the expansion of high-voltage lines would be particularly necessary. However, attention soon shifted to medium-voltage networks, where intelligent solutions were sought. “Today it is clear that the key to successfully implementing the energy transition at grid level lies in the low-voltage grid. With around a million local network stations in Germany, there is a lot to do here,” emphasizes the expert. The prioritization of renewable energies and their integration into the base load supply poses additional challenges for the network infrastructure and measurement technology. The adaptable control of feed-in systems is particularly crucial. For operators of combined heat and power plants (CHP), for example, it is profitable to feed in energy when the price of electricity on the exchange is high, which requires special internet-based control. A comprehensive, systematic approach is therefore essential. Before initiating data-based business processes, it is important to thoroughly understand the networks and largely automate them, taking physical and regulatory framework conditions into account. Given the change towards decentralized energy production and the role of consumers as producers (prosumers), the losses of the energy provided in the power grid, which are 5.7%, remain a significant challenge.
Section 14a of the Energy Industry Act (EnWG) aims to ensure the safe and efficient integration of controllable consumption devices and network connections into the electricity network. This requires utilities to prepare for critical situations where energy demand is high but renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, are unavailable. L. Beyer emphasizes that network operators are now legally obliged to reduce load peaks in such cases. In order to implement this, the creation of precise load profiles is essential. Traditional measuring devices that only record measurements every 15 minutes are not sufficiently accurate for this. The standard requires recording every 200 ms, although practice shows that an interval of 1 minute is often sufficient.

High-precision front panel built-in measuring device with a sampling rate of 57.6 kHz and for detecting harmonics up to 9 kHz

Digitalization leads to more transparency

L. Beyer points out that over 95% of low-voltage distribution networks are currently not yet digitized, which makes analyzing and controlling the networks more difficult. In contrast, ngn Netzgesellschaft Niederrhein mbH has made progress through the use of GridCal, a solution that includes both modular software and hardware. This solution makes it possible to efficiently measure and analyze energy distribution and make investment decisions based on this. This system is used for monitoring energy quality. used in accordance with DIN EN 50160 and records all relevant data Real time.
L. Beyer is clear that a combination of software and hardware is required to cope with the complex requirements of modern energy networks. “The Redispatch 2.0 project was not successfully implemented,” he notes. A comprehensive control of small energy generation plants has not been achieved. He also suggests that a further development, possibly Redispatch 3.0, may be necessary to effectively integrate even smaller systems. With GridCal, PQ-Plus offers a comprehensive solution for the digitization of distribution networks, which includes analysis tools, measurement technology and the necessary automation including digital interfaces. “The control units are preconfigured and connected to the analysis tools via VPN tunnel,” he explains. A key advantage of this solution is its scalability: “Users can start with the measurement technology and later add automation functions,” says L. Beyer.
Additionally, data analysis is supported by PS Insight, whereby the data can be stored either locally at the customer or in a data center. “We provide a proven, complete solution that does not require any in-house development on the part of the network operators. Similar to buying a car, where you don’t build from scratch, you just choose the features,” he adds. The careful handling of data is a central concern. PQ-Plus enables customers to use their data at any time and free of charge, thereby ensuring sovereignty over their own data. “The fusion of automation and energy technology is progressing, with automation being the dominant element,” L. Beyer is convinced. This is particularly true for small and medium-sized companies as well as rural areas, where PQPlus solutions are used due to their flexibility and. Efficiency is particularly valued. In addition to solar and wind power plants, biogas plants and combined heat and power plants also benefit from these innovative approaches. In addition, PQ-Plus promotes exchange and cooperation between those responsible at the network operators. “It’s not about everyone fighting for themselves. There is no competition among each other,” emphasizes L. Beyer. The PQ-Plus events not only serve to exchange knowledge within the industry, but also address practical aspects such as accelerating digitalization and optimizing depreciation periods for investments in the network infrastructure.

Demo kit for GridCal

Effectively monitor efficiency and power quality

A crucial factor for the success of the energy transition is the efficient use of energy. However, tracking energy consumption is often incomplete, and disruptions or outages caused by power quality issues are a common challenge. Despite the introduction of energy management systems in many companies, L. Beyer notes that the market was originally overestimated and today only a few providers can offer a comprehensive offering. PQ-Plus is dedicated to the precise monitoring of energy efficiency and has already implemented several successful projects. As an example, he cites the current implementation of an energy management system in a paper mill, which is based on partnership and eye level. PQ-Plus offers support beyond implementation, from energy procurement to optimized operations, helping customers correctly interpret the data collected. The company sees not only manufacturing companies but also hospitals as important target groups. Preventing failures and disruptions in sensitive networks to ensure a more stable energy supply remains a core goal. PQ-Plus uses a variety of methods to collect and analyze data in order to make targeted optimizations. “Monitoring power quality is crucial because the use of power electronics often leads to disruptions whose causes are difficult to identify,” explains L. Beyer. He knows of numerous cases in which harmonics led to disturbances, increased material wear or high losses, with one extreme example in which 18 A was measured on a water pipe. L. Beyer highlights the importance of PV systems on production halls for the energy transition, but warns of new risks to power quality that these systems can create. It is important to recognize critical conditions early and take preventative measures. Analyzing and understanding power quality is essential. The problems often lie with inverters and frequency converters, the causes of which must be known in order to take countermeasures. can. PQ-Plus meters are capable of detecting supraharmonics up to 9 kHz, in accordance with the EN 61000-4-7 ed.2 standard. With new regulatory requirements, changing standards, a shortage of skilled workers and increased due diligence requirements, interest in measuring equipment to determine power quality is growing. L. Beyer gives the example of an offshore wind farm where problems occurred due to power electronics and harmonics. PQ-Plus offers measuring cases (Figure 4) as a quick solution and permanently installed measuring devices such as the UMD 98 for permanent monitoring of the power quality. For higher voltage levels, devices such as the UMD 911, which can be used up to 960 V, are suitable.

The mobile measuring case MMD 98RCM records all power quality parameters and logs this data as single-, three- and four-phase measurements in the low-voltage network.


Coping with the energy transition requires a deep understanding of the network infrastructure and the targeted use of modern measurement technology. With its solutions for digitizing energy networks as well as monitoring and optimizing energy efficiency and power quality, PQ-Plus makes an important contribution to stabilizing the energy supply. By promoting the exchange of knowledge and the application of innovative technologies, the company contributes to addressing the challenges of the energy transition.

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