Automation in Electric Utilities of the New Europe

Automation in Electric Utilities of the New Europe

By Marianne Strong, PennWell Research

The old continent of Europe has under gone, and is still under going, dramatic changes in the political, economic and technical arena in the last few years. The fall of Communism, bringing with it newly developing market economies and the reunification of Germany, is affecting the present and future economic picture. The conflict in the Balkans and its ongoing settlement, as well as an uncertain outlook for Russia, are all impacting the economic situation in general and electric utilities in particular. Central and Eastern European nations, newly created by the breakup of the former Yugoslavia or freed from Soviet domination, are clamoring to join that exclusive club–the European Union. The European Union, for its part, is struggling to arrive at a comprehensive energy policy. While its declared goal is an open market, member nations have difficulty agreeing on the form this should take. Some, France foremost among them, favor a “single buyer” model, while others advocate “third-party access” for electric energy suppliers. The European Commission champions the latter approach, and Great Britain as well as some Scandinavian countries have instituted it in their countries.

In the meantime, privatization, internationalization, acquisitions and mergers abound. Utilities are diversifying their activities by adding communications, cable and other services. Among the hopeful signs for a more unified Europe are interconnections newly installed or planned between various European transmission grids, such as the new one between Sweden and Germany and those implemented or planned between Central and Eastern European grids and the Union Pour la Coordinacion de la Producion et du Transport de L`electricitàƒ© (UCPTE) system. Central and Eastern European nations are rehabilitating their electricity supply systems. These developments promote exchange of electric power across frontiers and greater cooperation among European nations. Against this background, PennWell Research (formerly CSR Market Data Services) conducted its fifth European electric utility SCADA/EMS study. A team of multilingual researchers conducted the study from October 1995 through February 1996, contacting utility managers and engineers in 33 European countries. According to the “European Electric Utility SCADA/EMS Market Data Report,” published in February 1996, European electric utilities are planning 231 EMS or SCADA systems projects estimated to cost over $400 million. The time frame for these projects covers a period of 30 months following the conclusion of the study.

Figure 1 presents the number of planned SCADA/EMS projects in each country, while Figure 2 shows the total amount budgeted for these projects in each country. Budgets given in foreign currencies were converted to U.S. dollars. Germany has the greatest number of planned projects, with 63 projects (or 27 percent) of the total. Sweden follows with 37 projects (or 16 percent) of the total, and Switzerland has planned 36 SCADA/EMS projects. In the category of total amounts budgeted, Germany again leads with $113,772,000 (or 27 percent) of the total, followed by Romania with $35 million (or 9 percent) and France with $34,723,000. The electric energy market in Germany is characterized by a few large transmission companies and a great many medium-sized and small distribution companies. Major organizational and technical changes have taken place in the territory of the former German Democratic Republic. Its transmission grid has been rehabilitated and is now connected to the UCPTE. All of the large German utilities have EMS or SCADA systems and may now be looking to upgrade those. Smaller utilities are interested in acquiring SCADA systems, principally PC-based with off-the-shelf software.

The national transmission system in Sweden is owned by the state through Svenska Kraftnàƒ¤t. Svenska Kraftnàƒ¤t shares an EMS with Vattenfall, which was the largest electric utility before Svenska Kraftnàƒ¤t was created in 1992. In 1995, the Swedish Parliament approved new regulations allowing electricity sales to be opened to competition and equal access to the network. In this development, Sweden followed the example of its neighbors, Norway and Finland. Deregulation of the Swedish electricity market should make a Nordic common electric power market a reality in the near future. Seven companies share transmission operations in Switzerland. Regional and municipal utilities handle the distribution. All of the transmission companies have state-of-the-art EMS or SCADA systems which they are continually upgrading and modernizing. Several of the smaller utilities are planning SCADA projects as well. A major European energy exchange center is located in Laufenburg.

Electricity supply in France is dominated by a national utility, Electricitàƒ© de France (EDF). Remote monitoring is exercised through the national control center, seven regional centers and several district centers. EDF has been planning and developing a new control system, the so-called “SIT-R,” since 1989. Three prototypes are scheduled for testing in 1996. Until a final decision is made, regional and district ceters may install interim systems. Romania`s national electric utility, RENEL, has developed ambitious plans for the refurbishing and modernization of the energy supply system. Domestic demand has been increasing, and export to neighboring countries presents an attractive prospect for the future. RENEL is planning an EMS and five territorial control centers.

Figures 3 and 4 show SCADA and EMS systems awarded from 1991 through 1995 to the leading vendors. Figure 3 presents a view of leading system vendors in terms of total dollars, while Figure 4 presents leading system vendors in terms of number of projects awarded to each. In terms of total dollars, Siemens leads the field, followed by Landis & Gyr and ABB. By number of projects, ABB leads with 62 projects. Siemens follows with 56 projects and Landis & Gyr with 45. Several national and international companies are also strongly represented as are a great many local vendors. While the picture presented in these graphs is not comprehensive, it does give an unbiased view of the market.

Budgets for planned SCADA/EMS projects range from $17,000 for a local distribution control system to $35 million for a national package. Average project value is $1,739,385. Figures 5 and 6 illustrate the number of projects and budgets broken down by cost categories. By number of projects, the “less than $250,000” category is most strongly represented with 64 projects (or 29 percent) of the total.

The “$1,000,000 to $3,999,999” category follows closely with 61 projects (or 26 percent) of the total. The smallest number of projects falls into the “$4,000,000 to $5,999,999” category with 10 projects (or 4 percent) of the total. In terms of monetary value for these projects, the 17 projects in the “$6,000,000 or more” category take the largest share with $195,173,000 (or 48 percent) of the total. The 64 projects in the “less than $250,000” group with $8,439,000 account for only 2 percent of total dollars budgeted.

In addition to system projects, the study identified complementary projects. Among these are 107 RTU add-on projects with a total of 1,090 RTUs valued at $9,537,000. Furthermore, the study found 23 consulting projects valued at $1,000,000, 24 mapboard projects valued at $1,518,000 and 36 communications projects valued at $7,135,000. The changing scene of the European electricity industry will bring many opportunities undoubtedly associated with some risk.

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The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at

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