Substation control upgrades to enable electric smartgrid

ABB has signed a four year agreement to supply hundreds of its newest RTU560 remote terminal units to a UK energy distribution network.

The modular telemetry and control devices will be used to upgrade substations, bringing them up to date with the IEC 61850 standard for substation communications, and adding flexibility to the distribution network.

Ibrahim Cobanoglu, ABB's UK sales support manager, said that projects of this sort are being driven by the demand for smartgrids, decentralised generation and the like. These dramatically change the structure of the distribution network: power flows bidirectionally, and load must follow generation rather than vice versa.

“The electricity industry is very traditional, everyone knows that, while the cycle of the telecoms industry is quite different, with so many disruptive ideas” he said. “But electricity grids need to be better controlled now for efficiency, so they are looking to telecoms technologies.

“Also of course they are looking to make more use of the Internet and of standard hardware and software.”

ABB had earlier sold a smaller number of RTU560 units to London Underground, as part of a pilot project to upgrade the power network for the Tube, but Cobanoglu said that the latest deal was the device's first big break into the UK utilities sector.

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