The transition towards a digital architecture in distribution substations delivers a lower lifecycle cost, but can be challenging to implement. How do we tackle this challenge head-on whilst ensuring that substations remain secure and reliable? Dr Ibrahim Abdulhadi, digital substations lead at the PNDC shares his thoughts.
Evolving substation architectures to become more digital unlocks engineering efficiencies by standardising substation designs, adopting more coherent data sets, and minimising the need for bespoke implementations as well as enabling enhanced resilience through distributed automation. However, updating new functional requirements in an active substation can be both costly and difficult for the industry.
Overcoming this is a major focus for PNDC, with our collaborative research programme currently underway covering various aspects of digital substation implementation. This programme is focused on achieving streamlined integration of new functions into existing and future substation infrastructure through standardised, reliable, and secure communications technology and the utilisation of digitised substation data.
Beyond this, it is also key to consider how and where digitised substation data is processed to produce the best trade-off between cost and benefit by considering aspects of cyber security, decentralisation of control and edge computing.
An example of this in action is our work with PNDC industrial partners in the development of virtualised substation platforms (e.g. vRTUs), which adopt a software-centric approach for realising future substation functions.
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