Smart Grid critical for Distribution Network/Distribution Generation voltage control


Scientists present a case for using smart grid technologies to help control distributed generation (DG) and distributed networks (DN) as UKPN demonstrates forward thinking, but Australia faces a distribution crisis.

According to a paper by Claude Ziad El-Bayeh and Khaled Alzaareer – both PhD students at Quebec University in Montreal – “applications of smart grid technologies are urgently required for voltage control in DNs to achieve the best services presented by DG units while maintaining safe system operation.”

Published on the IEEE SmartGrid website, the paper suggests that the new technologies can:

  • Avoid the uncertainty in load demand and power produced by DG units.
  • Easily capture any disturbance in the network.
  • Successfully implement DG units in real-time voltage control without operational conflicts with traditional voltage control devices such as on-load tap changers and capacitors.
  • Reach target voltage levels of DNs and meet reactive power transfer demand between transmission and distribution networks in an effective manner.
  • Meet the requirements imposed on the connection between the two networks.

Traditionally, control methods have primarily been through optimisation-based schemes which include national estimation of voltages, demand and weather.  However, El-Bayeh and Alzaareer believe smart grid technologies positioned at key points along the transmission network can help “avoid any violence in system constraints” and provide greater system security and resilience.

Clearly UK Power Networks (UKPN) has taken smart technology and the Energy Data Taskforce’s latest finding to heart. The DNO  is set to invest £15m in what it claims will be the world’s most advanced electricity network control system. 

Teaming up with Smarter Grid Solutions, the Active Network Management (ANM) software will be integrated into the DNO’s new control system, enabling more than 500MW of distributed energy to connect to the UKPN at lower cost and faster speed.

The software itself will analyse data from the South East of England’s power network to optimise autonomous power flow decisions to create more capacity for distributed energy resources and reduce the need for infrastructure upgrades.  

However, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) is concerned about the lack of urgency in implementing new technologies to manage the rapid uptake of renewable energy and mitigate the risk to grid security.

AEMO has called on energy regulators to introduce technologies as fast as possible, particularly in Western Australia, as on-site solar power becomes the energy of choice for many homes and businesses.  The organisation warns that operational demand could fall below 700MW within the next three years which, it claims, will put voltage levels at risk.