STARTUP CHALLENGE: SYNCHRONISM IN DISTRIBUTION GRIDS

We seek innovative synchro-check technologies between different areas of the grid

Iberdrola group — through its International Startup Programme - PERSEO, the Global Smart Grids Innovation Hub and Catapult — launches a new Startup Challenge in the search for innovative solutions that promote voltage synchronisation measurement systems between remote points, adapted to the needs of the distribution grid.

Electricity is transmitted within what we call a "three-phase system", where three single-phase alternating voltages travel from generation assets to consumption points, passing through transmission and distribution grids, maintaining their frequency and with limited changes in their angles.

However, distributed generation allows for the creation, intentional or not, of islands, areas of the distribution grid that operate disconnected from the rest. In these islands, the voltage is generated internally and is therefore not synchronised with the rest of the grid.

Iberdrola's team of experts in the Grids area uses various technologies to synchronously measure the magnitudes and angles between the phases along different points of the electricity grid. In order to maintain system stability, these phasor measurement units (PMUs) are used mainly in transmission grids, since they have been traditionally expensive.

However, there is an increasing need for phasor measurement solutions in distribution grids, which are required to an even greater extent due to the major changes and expansion these grids are undergoing as a result of the energy transition and the rise of distributed renewable generation.

Iberdrola has over 1.2 million kilometres of electricity transmission and distribution lines, spread throughout the United States, Brazil, the UK and Spain. This network comprises over 4,400 high to medium voltage sub-stations and more than 1.5 million medium to low voltage distribution transformers, built and operated to provide a high-quality and reliable service to a total of 31 million electricity supply points.

DESCRIPTION OF THE CHALLENGE

In this context, new innovative technologies for checking synchronism between two different areas of the grid could be used for purposes related to the increasing connection of distributed renewable sources to the distribution grid. Specifically:

  • As anti-islanding protection by measuring the synchronism loss of the generators with respect to a point of the reference grid.
  • In microgrids, working in isolation from the grid, not only to detect the disconnection between them, but also to synchronise the phases during reconnection after an outage. This is particularly useful in those cases in which disconnection is carried out by means of a remote switch and local measurements are not available.

Due to all this, Iberdrola — through its International Startup Programme - PERSEO, the Global Smart Grids Innovation Hub and Catapult — launches this challenge in the search for competitive, innovative solutions that make it possible to measure distribution grid phases, so that the system remains balanced, whether they are:

  • With a single measurement at substation level — primary or secondary — that is representative of the total measurements in the grid.
  • With several measurements at different substation feeders — medium or low voltage —, representative of possible distributed generators or microgrids.

 

The proposals will be analysed by experts from Iberdrola's Grids Business Unit.

For their assessment, the following will be considered:

 The reliability and adequacy of measurement systems.

 Simplicity of use and interpretation of results.

 The cost of using both the systems and the associated telecommunications.

GLOBAL SMART GRIDS INNOVATION HUB

The challenge is launched within the framework of Iberdrola's new smart grid innovation centre, the Global Smart Grids Innovation Hub. This centre aims to be a world reference in smart grids — through open collaboration and coworking between i-DE technicians with suppliers, startups and different organizations around the world — and will enable it to respond to the challenges of the energy transition.

The hub will act as a driving platform for innovation, combining the company's technological capacity with that of collaborators: suppliers, universities, technology centres and startups. It will also attract strategic suppliers and international talent, thereby strengthening the business ecosystem.

Iberdrola has already identified more than 120 projects for future development with a value of 110 million euros. The lines of work, which are international in scope, will enable the development and deployment of innovative solutions for the activity of Iberdrola Networks throughout the world.

WHAT IS CATAPULT?

Energy Systems Catapult was set up to accelerate the transformation of the UK's energy system and ensure UK businesses and consumers capture the opportunities of clean growth. The Catapult is an independent, not-for-profit centre of excellence that bridges the gap between industry, government, academia and research. We take a whole-systems view of the energy sector, helping us to identify and address innovation priorities and market barriers, in order to decarbonise the energy system at the lowest cost.

Catapult Energy Systems.

THE PRIZE

The selected project will be developed in collaboration with the technical specialists from the Iberdrola Networks area.

The prize will consist of us signing a collaboration agreement for the development of a proof-of-concept with PERSEO or any other relevant Iberdrola group company, who will assume the costs and provide the winner with the necessary technical support, giving access to infrastructures and real data to test the solution.

In addition, the startup will be included directly in the process of joining Iberdrola´s Global Smart Grids Innovation Hub, as one more collaborator who will be able to benefit from the services, activities and resources that are made available in the centre.

If the assay or proof of concept is satisfactory, Iberdrola may offer the participant the opportunity to scale up the solution by means of commercial agreements.

In addition, PERSEO may consider investing in the participant and/or challenge winner.

If you have any questions, please contact IberdrolaChallenge@iberdrola.es.

TIMELINE

04/22/2021
Public launch
of the challenge
05/14/2021
Deadline
for receiving
proposals
June 2021
Announcement
of the winner