Home Tags POWERGRID_INTERNATIONAL Volume 15 Issue 12
POWERGRID_INTERNATIONAL Volume 15 Issue 12
The electrical transformer is an essential link in the power distribution grid used to step down the high voltage electricity transmission for use in businesses and homes. More than 70 percent of large power transformers are 25 years old or older with the average age approaching the expected 40-year design life. Because of the large capital investment, utilities would rather extend the life of a transformer than replace it. Coupled with this, however, are risks and consequences of transformer failure. A severe failure can come with a high cost, therefore, avoiding a failure and extending the life of a transformer has obvious financial benefits.
Smart grid is a term that is now recognized by people who have never worked at a utility or related business. Stock indices exist that follow businesses developing products and services that enhance the grid. Legislation focused on investment and research in energy generation and distribution has been created, and consumers are beginning to recognize that the way they view and manage their energy usage in the future will be dramatically different from today. These factors are driving many analysts to predict more than $200 billion will be invested in new grid technologies between 2008 and 2013. Pike Research predicts that more than $53 billion will be spent in the U.S. alone.
Not long ago, Internet protocol (IP) was synonymous with the World Wide Web, and its application was not as far reaching as it is today. In recent years, however, IP became widely used in not only the home, but by businesses as well. The banking and healthcare industries, for example, have processed financial and medical transactions using secure IP connections for a few years. Now, utilities are embracing the same technology to bring about one of the greatest shifts in the industry—the smart grid.
Enormous economic pressures exist in the electric power industry to maximize asset life. Utilities can’t count on an asset achieving or exceeding its average life expectancy. Because an asset issue, like a transformer failure, can negatively impact a utility, diagnostic activities are more important than ever. Utilities recognize that testing can prevent issues, avert imminent failures and even reduce maintenance costs.
Big changes are taking place in energy production, distribution and consumption. Fuel sources are changing toward renewable, requiring grid load to be more carefully managed and compensated with storage devices. This new energy structure must be properly connected and intelligently operated. Key components for achieving this connected grid are wireless systems to transmit data from different end-points in the grid and the wireless modules and sensors those systems require. Testing integration and deployment models for these systems is the first step toward implementing a smarter grid.
Staco Energy Products has introduced its latest addition to its line of automatic voltage regulators (AVR) for power conditioning in demanding applications. Based on a series regulation transformer controlled by variable transformers (VTs), these robust units offer tight output regulation and are easily customizable. All Staco AVR units feature extremely high overload and inrush ratings. Gold-plated contacts on all coils and nickel-plated copper bus bars are standard.
Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) is a smart grid lynchpin. As the grid becomes more intelligent, so must meters and their underlying communications framework. For a look at how metering is developing during the smart grid evolution, POWERGRID International spoke with Mark Munday, Elster Solutions CEO, about the company’s work inside and outside the U.S., as well as how he sees the marriage of smart grid, communications and smart meters.
The traditional vertically-integrated power utility may be supplanted in the future by distributed generation and various renewables, meaning that the classic linear structure of power could be replaced by a mixture of generation, transmission and distribution connections shaped much like a wagon wheel—with multiple spokes interconnected at one spot known as the virtual power plant.
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