Siemens ventures into smart space3 February 2014
With the introduction of several new enabling products Siemens has launched a full scale assault on the market for smart grid related hardware: and on the software side has teamed up with IT specialist Accenture.
In October Siemens announced the formalisation of its co-operation with US company Accenture by forming a joint venture that would market the two companies' products in the smart grid field. Siemens brings its hardware specialisations, in the form of several established and new grid-enabling products, while Accenture brings its information technology.
The aim is that the new company, named Omnetric Group, will provide advanced solutions and services focused on data management and systems integration. These solutions will integrate operational technologies -- such as distribution management and real-time grid operations -- with IT systems supporting smart metering, energy consumption and work and asset management.
"Combining the strengths of Siemens and Accenture will enable Omnetric Group to deliver the highest level of expertise and execution to a rapidly evolving global utility market," commented Jan Mrosik, CEO of Siemens' Smart Grid Division.
Omnetric will seek to combine Siemens' products and solutions with Accenture's management and technology consulting, systems integration and managed-services capabilities. It is hoped to bring the two companies' IT and operational technology experience to bear on a range of challenges faced by energy utilities around the world.
"With an integrated approach incorporating operational and information technologies, utilities can improve overall grid reliability and bridge the gap to real-time grid control by integrating and implementing new and previously isolated grid applications. This includes demand response, to actively manage consumption; virtual power plants, to enable new profitable business models; and meter data management, to enable usage transparency for consumers" says Mrosik.
Jack Azagury, global managing director for Accenture's Smart Grid Services, commented "Utilities are seeking ways to increase capital effectiveness and reduce their costs of operations while integrating new technologies ... doing so requires ... the integration of traditional IT solutions with the operational solutions required to manage the grid. Omnetric Group will be uniquely positioned to help utilities realise the benefits of this IT and operational convergence."
The new company will begin operations, pending regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions, in Europe and the United States, with further global expansion planned for the future.
Simultaneously, Siemens Smart Grid Division has announced a partnership with Dutch grid operator and energy utility Alliander N.V., the largest operator of power and gas networks in the Netherlands, with which it has signed a smart grid co-operation agreement. The objective is to join forces to develop and promote innovations for intelligent power supply networks.
This co-operation will focus on requirements for smart grids for which there are not yet any marketable solutions. Joint developments are expected to help close these gaps.
Possible solutions include technologies which can be used to increase the transparency of medium- and low-voltage networks, innovations for virtual power plants, innovations for data security in power grids and for patch management, as well as the development of analyses specifically tailored to grid managers. To accomplish this, the data recorded along the entire energy conversion chain should be prepared so it will be in a usable form for grid managers.
The co-operation between Siemens and Alliander is also a concession to the EU's demand that distribution system operators co-operate with other market participants. Alliander wants to use its innovation partnership with Siemens to take the next steps toward initiating a fully developed, smart grid for the future in its network area.
The first of several new items of hardware that Siemens has introduced is a data concentrator that offers the function keys and display necessary for local interaction. Designated Sicam DC, it is the first data concentrator on the market that can be controlled directly at the installation site. Service technicians from energy providers or public utilities can call up and display diagnostic data without the need to connect a notebook or computer.
The function of a data concentrator is to collect data from linked meters and concentrate it for transmission to the central offices of the energy provider. Sicam DC is designed for use primarily with AMI (advanced metering infrastructure) solutions as a communication gateway or smart network node. It supports the PRIME (PoweRline Intelligent Metering Evolution) communication standard.
AMI systems - a term that encompasses smart meters, data concentrators and centralised IT - work together in smart grids to deliver energy consumption data as well as the information that operators need to manage the grid efficiently. The data concentrator serves as a communication gateway for the data from all linked smart meters, transmitting information on energy consumption, for example, to higher-level meter data management systems such as EnergyIP (Figure 2).
It is also a smart network node that supplies the information needed to optimiae the power grid and serves as an active grid management component. It communicates with linked smart meters using the PRIME comms standard, which is based on the technical standard for narrow-band powerline communication specified by the PRIME Alliance. The PRIME Alliance is a forum of energy providers and manufacturers of comms components and is dedicated to defining an open, interoperable standard for narrow-band powerline communication in smart grids.
EMS for distributed power
Virtual power plants are one of the most important application fields for the new version of the DEMS energy management system (Figure 3). Designated 3.0 it consists of two subsystems, the DEMS Designer, a graphic tool for data engineering, and a runtime system with a new user interface that is more user-friendly. The system can be used on the market for minute reserves and is prepared for use in the secondary regulated energy market.
Siemens believes that virtual power plants are one of the most important components for creating smart grids. Without them, it would no longer be possible to rationally integrate the growing number of distributed and renewable energy resources into the grid and into the markets.
DEMS Designer is a the graphic tool for engineering data. It works with a graphic data entry system that enables users to remain in their modelling world when they are developing the topology of their energy systems. From a software catalogue, users select elements with predefined data models with which they want to model their energy system, e.g. generation, load or storage systems. Afterwards, users can position and connect the elements to match the energy and material flows. Menus for the parameters of the specific resources are assigned to each element. A plausibility check based on experience from working with the previous energy management system prevents errors, reports missing entries, and provides for the necessary security.
Subsequently the design and the parameterisation of the distributed plants to be controlled are transferred one by one to the runtime system. Using DEMS Designer,Siemens says, the time and effort required for the engineering of a virtual power plant can be reduced by approximately 60% compared to the previous system.
The energy management system communicates with the connected generation, load or storage systems in accordance with IEC 60870-5-104, so no additional communications software is necessary. DEMS Designer also stores the parameters for the communication connection and the plant connection in combination with the DER (distributed energy resources) controller. These are available in the runtime system immediately following activation.
New distribution management for smart grids
A new offering to be marketed under the Spectrum Power ADMS (Advanced Distribution Management System) suite combines SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition), outage management, and fault and network analysis functions for the first time on a software platform under a common user interface. This is intended to simplify all work processes and facilitates the entering and updating of data. The system, says Siemens, also allows network operators to control and monitor their distribution network more reliably, and also to carry out maintenance and repair work more efficiently.
"If new energy policies are to succeed, we need to make our distribution networks more intelligent. They must also be capable of being controlled efficiently as smart grids in order to effectively channel the increasing volume of electricity fed in from renewable energy resources. This is exactly what our new system allows power supply companies and utilities to do" commented Jan Mrosik.
By suggesting actions to be taken, and through automated processes, the system assists operators at the grid control centres in repairing and reconnecting the affected network section as quickly as possible after a fault. Another strength of the system is the intelligent use of smart meter data for fault detection and clearance and for controlling and monitoring distributed energy sources.
Since it was developed for integration in a service-oriented architecture (SOA), the system can make use of services and data of other IT systems, such as cards and network data from geoinformation systems or load profiles from meter data management systems. In the same way, other IT systems can access services and data in the distribution network management system, like information for customer information systems about downtime in case of a malfunction, or work orders or switching jobs for the workforce management system. Thanks to its SOA design concept, Spectrum Power ADMS can be integrated efficiently in the user's IT environment, thus allowing business processes to be optimised and work processes to be automated.
Staff report by James Varley and Leonard Sanford