Most serious grid problems can be traced to the distribution grid rather than the transmission network, says Reji Kumar Pillai, the chairman of the Global Smart Grid Federation. Speaking to Energize at the recent Smart Grid Conference, Pillai said that the solution to distribution problems is the implementation of a smart grid.
Smart grids, Pillai says, offer significant benefits to utilities and consumers alike. Both benefit from improved service and fewer lengthy outages. Smart grids enable faster and more reliable condition monitoring which translates into faster response times by utilities and hence shorter power outages.
The Smart Grid Conference was organised by the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers (SAIEE) and was held at Eskom’s convention centre in Midrand.
Smart grids also improve billing and load management, while offering pro-active condition monitoring of the distribution network’s assets.
Pillai says that by means of a digitalised distribution network, monitoring of the network is undertaken by software using algorithms which quickly interprets the data and dispatches repair teams to the exact spot where the fault has occurred. In France, he says, drones fly over power lines, monitoring them and sending back photographic images which are analysed by a computer running specialised software.
Smart grids are not just for areas where the distribution network is in perfect shape, he says. Upgrading or repairing a distribution network and adding smart grid functionality can be done simultaneously he said. The smart grid will revolutionise maintenance and condition monitoring, and customers will be better served, he said.
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