Friday, March 20, 2015

Germany Survived the Solar Eclipse 2015 on March 20

During the last days and months there were a lot of discussions and news about a possible blackout during the Solar Eclipse 2015 today. The operators (and the nature) were quite well prepared for the event.

Lesson 1 learned: Nature and Operators did a good job!

Is there another lesson learned? Sure!

Due to the fact that the universe is not made by human beings, we could predict the movement of the sun, the moon and the earth … and thanks to mathematics we could calculate the impact of the sun on a sunny day like today …


Source: ENTSO-E; click HERE for further details provided by ENTSO-E.

The first maximum of PV power feed-in of 13.3 GW was at 9:45 h today. One hour later the minimum feed-in was 5.1 GW at 10:45 h.


Source: SMA, click HERE for the online data (then select March 20, 2015).

Between 10:45 h and 11:45 h the feed-in grew by 11,7 GW. That means 195 MW per minute or 3,25 MW per second. The maximum of the day was 20.3 GW at 12:45 h.


Source: SMA, click HERE for the online data (then select March 20, 2015).

Note that the forecast was very accurate, as can be seen in the following diagram:


Source: TransnetBW; click HERE for the online data.

The forecast of March 13, 2015 (one week before) was some 700 MW higher than the actual value for 13:00 h, as can be seen in the following figure:


Source: TransnetBW; click HERE for the online data.

The transmission companies have spent a lot of money to get a very precise forecast for today – and it worked fine. But these efforts were taken because it was a remarkable day. The forecast may become better – they are still modeling the physical world with laws set by the creator of the nature. The future power system will be impacted by more man-made “laws” that focus more on profit than on physics.

How many power plants have been used today to control the frequency and balance the load and generation? Maybe a few hundred. These power plants are well equipped with remote terminal units and communicate through IEC 60870-5-101 (and some with -104).

The control center are able to control remotely in the context of schedules plant for the day.

Another question is: What if we have to control Millions of decentralized resources (in some years)? What if we have not only 40+ GW Wind Power and 50+ GW PV power installed?? Who will provide the needed schedules for millions of feed-in points? Who and how will we control millions of these resources?

And how will we guarantee that the needed communication links between millions of intelligent devices will operate in a disaster situation? Note: TODAYs Solar Eclipse was far away from a disaster!

And what happens if somebody manipulates the information and information exchange? Even if we limit the active control commands to a very few or forbid them at all. We need to exchange at least situational information: current, frequency, voltage, power factor, or … Who guarantees that the values exchanged can be trusted?

Can we then trust that we know all communication connections that end in a power plant? You would be surprised if you would start to list the communication assets. As an expert recently said: “I have had the same experience as … with respect to finding "unknown" remote access connectivity at almost every facility I have assessed. These include dial-up modems, wireless access points, and network interface cards that IT and Corporate Engineering did not know existed.” Somebody else said: “At another facility we were told that external connections were always unplugged, but we were able to call the equipment at the phone number we saw posted.”

The future of our power delivery system is dependent on millions (instead of hundreds) of power resources, and on human beings that may loose the control over the communication infrastructure or that may compromise the communication and control systems.

Lesson 2 (to be learned by all): Take the communication, secure communication, control, secure control, impact of the physics on the power system and other aspects MORE SERIOUS! Think always how to apply standards – I mean real standards like IEC 60870-5-104, IEC 61400-25, IEC 61850, or DNP3.

There is a lot to be accomplished at the engineering level! Power is more than Euros and Dollars … let’s do the job together. We need you all.

All people that have read to this end will agree with me (at least in general).

Thanks for taking your (spare!?) time.

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