The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) emphasizes that to fight climate change our energy system needs to be completely reshaped at an unprecedented speed. New renewable and intermittent energy resources will be connected to the energy system, consumption will be managed with demand responses, and new storage devices will be deployed and used.
All this needs to happen without risking the security of the power supply. It means that the protection and control functionality of our power networks must be enabled to manage continuous changes during the lifetime of devices. This is a tremendous challenge to the automation system, which needs to become more flexible and be able to reconfigure faster. There is a growing need for flexible automation products and for flexible cloud services to support and manage those products.
In Finland, the first signs of climate change came in the form of exceptionally severe winter storms, which caused long-lasting power outages to large areas of the country at the beginning of this decade. After these storms, the government of Finland imposed regulations to ensure that utilities would substantially improve the security of the power supply. In practice this has meant the rapid installation of underground cabling and the renewal of substation automation systems, often many years before the end of the installed equipment’s calculated technical lifetime.
The future of distribution is in cloud services
Caruna, the largest electricity distribution system operator in Finland, has taken up this challenge and is now executing a large investment program to improve the network, focusing on safety, reliability and flexibility for future needs.
Caruna sees cloud services as valuable tools in the future of the electricity distribution business.
Henri Vierimaa, technology manager at Caruna, says: “Cloud services provide a flexible platform to handle large volumes of data and to develop various new applications. The benefits gained can be seen in several ways, for example, in the analysis of online measurement and event data from a network usage point of view, enabling diagnostics, condition monitoring, and demand response. In addition, the ability to maintain and update device configurations in a centralized location would ensure that the information is always available and up to date. Two of Caruna’s main requirements for the widespread use of cloud services are related to cyber security and reliability.”
Cloud service pilot with Caruna
ABB Ability cloud services can offer what Caruna is looking for. Together with Caruna, ABB piloted a concept where a protection and control system in Noormarkku substation in western Finland was connected to ABB Ability cloud services via a secure remote connection. The newly developed cloud services can serve as complete fleet software management of flexible protection and control products. The piloted cloud service manages all configurations and versions of the protection applications. This enables safely backups, with the possibility to quickly restore to fleet devices whenever a secure, remote connection is available via ABB Ability Services.
“ABB Ability is our unified, cross-industry digital capability: connected and software-enabled solutions and services that allow our customers to know more, do more, do better, together,” says Alessandro Palin, managing director of ABB’s Distribution Solutions business.
An important aspect of fleet software management is the firmware update process. When new product features are available, they can be quickly taken into use with a large fleet of devices through these new services. The events, records, and other process data gathered from the devices to the ABB Ability cloud can also be used for network fault diagnostics and condition monitoring.
The pilot device used in the Noormarkku pilot is a new software-oriented concept for the protection and control of medium-voltage substations, ABB Ability smart substation control and protection for electrical systems, SSC600. With this totally new concept, software updates can be done remotely, instead of repeated device replacements or other extensive manual work onsite. However, a digital software-oriented protection device alone is not sufficient to address the need for flexibility. In addition, a management system is required that can efficiently monitor and manage a fleet of such devices. Without a proper management system, the full benefit of the flexible field devices is lost. The best way to realize this kind of management system is through the cloud service part of the ABB Ability digital offering.
For the best interests of customers
The innovative collaboration between Caruna and ABB is a success. Caruna said that this collaboration will bring the best possible result for its customers.
“SSC600 is an interesting approach to network control and protection. Consolidating multiple relays into one device reduces network complexity and offers effective ways to control protection functions of the network. It is cost-effective and modern solution that also offers an open platform for developing new network functionalities required in the future,” Henri Vierimaa says.
ABB supports Caruna and other customers across the full product life cycle to enable them to do more with their assets.