Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Want to Understand one of the Largest Machines - The Interconnected European Electric Power Grid?

The Interconnected European Electric Power Grid is one of the biggest machines built by humans. It has been developed over a period of about some 130 years. It is a miracle that it is still working very stable and more or less uninterrupted form many years.

The challenge for the future is this: How to keep the power flowing, the grass green and the sky blue. I met with a retired - but still very active - power engineer yesterday. We discussed how more information technologies can be used to support a very reliable automation system to provide 24x7 power flow all over in Europe. We have figured out that one of the key challenges in the discussions is to find the correct language in our discussions. I mean: When I talk about preventing any "remote control command", what does the recipient of that term understand? We figured out that we have discussed this term for years - but did have a different understanding in mind!

Fortunately we solved our disconnect and were happy that we have the same understanding. We will use a new (or just another) terms to make sure that other people will understand what we want to say.

A "remote control command" an mean:

  1. Switch on the electric heater of heat storage system  or
  2. Allow the local controller of the heat storage system to draw electric power when the local controller sees a need to heat the storage.

In the first case the electric power will immediately flow. In the second, it may or may not - depending on the local situation. Not all heater will start immediately at the same time to heat.

In case we use the term "remote control command" for the first application only, we will not be understood by many people. Because - I guess - most people would say: In both use cases we send a "remote control command" to the remote system.

What is the real underlying difference of the two use cases? The first one has a direct impact on the power flow, while in the second there is a local control system involved to decide what to do. Let´s assume we have 1000 heaters of a total power of 10 MW. In the first use case we have an immediate power flow rate of 10 MW per a few seconds. In the second case it is a stochastic situation where some may immediately draw the power others may draw power one hour later ...

Finally: If we would have smart systems, then the local controller would be situationell aware of the condition of the power system: if the frequency or voltage would be below specific set-points, then they would not draw power at all ...

If you would like to learn more about the huge machine "Interconnected Electric Power Delivery System":

Click HERE to watch a video [with English translation] which discusses some basics of the complexity ... enjoy.
Click HERE for the version in German.
Click HERE for more options.

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