Synchrophased data: the essence of real-time power grid management?

Synchrophased data: the essence of real-time power grid management?

Synchrophasors are being deployed as an effective method of managing data from distribution and other measurement units to assist with achieving net-zero grids.

According to Nokia’s IP Product Marketing specialist, Hansen Chan, “synchrophasor data” is the new fashion when it comes to managing data from the latest grid monitoring technology.

As stated by Fundamentals’ MD, Jon Hiscock: Communication should no longer be regarded in terms of individual, tactical connections between disparate assets and management systems. It has become a foundation technology for smarter management of whole power system at a strategic level.” 

Part of the challenge in achieving this is how to ensure reliable data delivery from those disparate assets – often on the very edge of the grid - while minimising the strain on communication bandwith and wireless links.

The solution, according to Chan, is syncrophasor: “A time-synchronised measurement system that provides real-time situational awareness of the power grid.” Apparently, syncrophasors have previously been used effectively in transmission and bulk power systems, but are now being seen as a key element in the drive towards net-zero grids.

Chan claims synchrophasor can offer reporting of as much as 60 measurements per second, offering greater opportunity for the early detection of grid changes (including potential failure, imbalance or instability) – a potential game-changer for the distribution industry.

Grounded efficiency

While satellite-based technology is already in play, synchrophasor is a ground-based option using field area networks (FANs).   Chan highlights three challenges to delivering the high-speed communications needed for synchophasors. In essence, these are:

  1. Access to fibre, microwave or broadband, particularly for LV substations.
  2. The traditional approach of sending multiple data copies to phasor data concentrators (PDCs).
  3. The need for Field Area Networks to be service-centric to support multiple grid applications.

Given Chan’s role, it is unsurprising that he is keen to highlight Nokia’s solution: a service-centric converged FAN.  The key is the use of an LTE broadband router which can be connected to a private and/or commercial network.  This can allow Virtual Private Network IP multicasting of the PMU data which removes the need for the PMU to duplicate its measurement data as this is handled by the network. 

Using a router also allows the connection of additional VPNs for other requirements such as controller-to-controller communication.

According to Chan: With a converged FAN, utilities can consolidate the existing hodgepodge of FANs built on legacy, proprietary and narrowband radio technologies on one network. It is also optimized for new IP-based grid innovations and will continue to be an integral component of the carbon reduction strategy for many years to come.”

Potentially a stunning application for synchrophasors that could not only reduce costs, but also help deliver net-zero targets.