POWERGRID Europe Beautifies Milan

By Kathleen Davis, conference director, POWERGRID Europe

Europe has a lot on its plate at the moment: a spoonful of nuclear, various bits of fossil fuels, a mound of renewables–all different, but tasty sources of energy. Separately, these “bites” consider themselves islands, but something has to connect them to the outside world. Something has to carry what they make to the consumer. In reality, no source of generation is an island. That’s where the electric grid comes in: the balance, the finger in all the pies.

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In June, energy industry experts from across the globe will gather in Milan for POWERGRID Europe 2008 to talk about how to maintain that balance.

POWERGRID Europe is held in conjunction with one of Europe’s largest energy shows, POWER-GEN Europe, and a sister specialty generation show, Renewable Energy Europe. Together, the three shows offer the opportunity to mix with 11,000 power industry professionals from more than 100 countries. With all three shows available with one single registration, attendees can see just how the pros and cons of generation issues are impacted by the technology, capacity and regulation of the power grid. Together, each component of our three shows can be applied and discussed across the board. This year at POWERGRID Europe, we’re focusing on two specific areas: the growing popularity of the smart grid ideal and the area of system performance. These are the two things most talked about among grid experts today: how to get to the smart grid vision of the future and how to make our current system work better until we obtain that fabulous future.

Active Networks and Reflecting the Smart Grid Vision

Our smart grids track begins with a session on power markets, moderated by EDF’s Eric Lambert on Tuesday, June 3. Since July 2007, all European consumers are free to shop around for electricity supplies. At the same time, the European Union works to ensure that infrastructure–such as the electricity transmission network–is continually improved to make energy transport as efficient as possible. Regulators have been established in each EU country to ensure suppliers and network companies operate correctly and provide the services promised to their customers. The European Commission is monitoring closely the market identifying obstacles and shortcomings. This session will highlight several works, architectures and standards that contribute to and help to consolidate European energy markets. Papers on standardized language in an open market, network planning, information systems and theoretical business cases for smart grid issues will be presented by authors from EDF, GE Energy, RTE and Capgemini.

Our smart grid dissection continues with a look into the specifics of network applications during a Wednesday session moderated by Newton-Evans Research Company president Chuck Newton. Experts examine whether we can easily switch from our “reactive” distribution network to one that can work ahead and project possible problems, the way an intelligent section of an intelligent grid should. We’ll also examine islanding within those distribution networks. This session will feature papers from JCMB Technology, AREVA T&D, ESRI and Siemens, among others.

On Thursday, Claes Rytoft, senior vice president of ABB Power System, leads us through a discussion of the minutia of intelligent technology. From examining the technical details of a Greek power incident to a university examination of “small scale energy zones,” our operations and grid codes session runs the gamut from theoretical to hands-on. We’ll look at some of the restoration procedures from France, Switzerland and Slovenia networks directed to main Italian power plants, which are currently under deep technical evaluation at TERNA–as well as a Brattle Group analysis of how all this power can be more efficiently whisked across an increasingly over-tasked grid, using a Dutch grid operator project as a touchstone. With Italian grid operator, TERNA, in the mix, this session should be all the rage with locals.

We wrap up our track on smart grid ideals with a session on communications and information management overseen by Heiko Englert, project manager, standardization and IEC 61850 interoperability, with Siemens AG. Running the span from process level up to control center level, modern- and standards-based technologies for communications and information management build the fundament of an efficient and future-proof power system control and automation structure. This session will look on practical experiences and future trends of IEC 61850 substation automation, recent advances and benefits of power system information modeling according CIM (IEC 61970), and IT-security concepts to ensure secure networks and control center communication. This session will feature vendor experts from AREVA T&D, ABB, RuggedCom and Schweitzer Engineering. Utility and academic perspectives from PPL (in the U.S.), EDF and the University of Strathclyde will also be included, balancing the commercial angle with social and community views and practical knowledge.

System Performance

Our second track, “System Performance,” examines the people, the equipment and the software we have right now and ways to optimize and adapt those systems as we grow toward a more intelligent interconnection.

The track begins Tuesday with an asset optimization session moderated by ESRI’s Bill Meehan. Utilities have made an enormous investment in their assets and must optimize the use of them to gain their full benefits. We’ll examine a number of aspects of asset optimization such as full life cycle asset management, the optimization of distribution assets for distributed generation, maximizing the effectiveness of maintenance, optimal recloser placement and advanced transformer condition assessment. Look for papers by AEM Milano, the University of Durham, Parsons Brinckerhoff, KEMA, TERNA, and the University of Trieste, among other experts. Aging cable lines, dynamic thermal ratings and distribution automation will be discussed in detail.

On Wednesday, the track continues with a meeting led by Juan Marti from Iberdrola Distribucion S.A.U. We’ll delve a bit deeper into the ins and outs of system performance with a session on measurements. We’ll hear from experts about putting IEC power quality standards into instruments and equipment to enhance their operability, the development of high- and ultra-high-voltage networks using AC or DC technology, power exchange transactions based on HV metering chains, and other ways to note the details of the complicated grid technology. More information from Italian experts CESI will be available in this session, as well.

Marco Janssen, president of UTInnovation, will guide attendees through Thursday’s session on “people as assets.” This unique session at POWERGRID Europe forgoes the concept of papers to sit down a number of experts and industry participants for a chat–to talk about the best ways to leverage, train and reward your human assets. An overview of the industry issues and challenges will lead into a discussion of potential training and program offerings, including a simulator program to give distribution network folk “hands-on” experience without an actual emergency in play. Unlike the other sessions in our conference, this session is a panel presentation rather than a collection of papers. Questions and interactions with the audience and between panel members will be the focus of the session. Other panelists in this session include: Thales Papazoglou, Professor, EPSL-TEIC; Thierry Fortin, team leader, RTE; and Paul James, manager of corporate strategy development, Country Energy.

Our final session in this track, improving equipment performance, will be moderated by Richard Charnah of AREVA T&D. A range of network solutions will be examined with much reference to real cases. Experience from other continents, as well as Europe, is presented from distributed sensing and risk management through to modularized real-time control and including electronic systems and fault current limitation, as a sample of the spectrum of current activity in the field. Experts from Scotland to Italy, will be included in this discussion.

When the average European thinks about electricity, they envision coal trains, spinning wind turbines, nuclear cooling stacks–those little generation bites on the plate. They forget the most important element: how that power gets from generation to consumer. The European power grid ties together countries, cultures and various power sources from across the continent. While it may be ignored by most energy consumers, we at POWERGRID Europe are fully aware of the importance of the T&D infrastructure to keep the lights on from London to Athens.

Come join us in Milan, Italy, June 3-5 to discuss the details, technology, regulatory issues and business theories that impact Europe’s electric grid.

Papers, panelists, authors and moderators were accurate as of the writing of this article. However, they are subject to change. Updated information, registration, exhibitor lists and more on POWERGRID Europe can be found online: www.powergrideurope.com.

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