The first digital substation in the UK – a major step towards future smart grids – is being built in Scotland.
The overhaul of two bays of the 275 kV SP Energy Networks-operated substation in Wishaw will see analogue copper connections replaced with fibre-optic cables, allowing digital data transmission.
The automated substation will permit better monitoring and control of the transmission network in parts of Scotland and contribute to better safety, flexibility and availability, while at the same time reducing cost and environmental impact.
The station is being built as part of the Future Intelligent Transmission Network Substation (FITNESS) project, overseen by SP Energy Networks.
“This project will demonstrate how digitalised communications within a substation can increase controllability, facilitate the integration of intermittent renewables and improve safety by replacing copper cabling with fibre optics,” said Claudio Facchin, president of ABB’s Power Grids division, which will develop automation technologies for the substation. “A key element of our next level strategy is to focus on enabling the automation of the grid in line with our internet of things, services and people approach to help utilities improve reliability and ensure safe and clean energy supply to consumers.”
The Wishaw substation has been selected for the pioneering overhaul as it controls the electricity network in an area with a large number of wind power plants. The station will incorporate the so called intelligent electronic devices (IEDs), which provide microprocessor-based protection and control for power equipment such as circuit breakers, transformers and capacitor banks.
“SP Energy Networks endeavours to deliver value for money for UK customers through the FITNESS project and bring innovative digital substation solutions that also enable optimisation of asset investments,” said Priyanka Mohapatra, senior project manager for SP Energy Networks. “We are also expecting a saving in overall substation costs when digital technology is adopted as the UK norm, and a footprint reduction of around 15 per cent.”
The FITNESS project will run for four years from April 2016 with the aim of demonstrating a fully integrated multi-vendor digital substation solution with associated protection, control and monitoring. It represents one of the first steps towards grid automation and interoperability through standardisation, system design and testing, which are becoming increasingly critical for the utility industry.