We promote smart grid development
- In Europe, Iberdrola leads the UPGRID project, which seeks to strengthen its capacity as an active demand integrator and distributed generation in the low voltage network
- In Brazil, a vehicle prototype, Elektrobus, is being developed, with an electric drive system via ultra-capacitors
- In the U.S. an aerial system is being developed to evaluate damages caused by heavy storms on the electricity grid
In recent years the European Union has invested around 3 billion euros in research projects into Smart Grids to enable the electricity network to incorporate more clean, renewable energy and encourage efficient, quality and responsible consumption. Within this scenario, Iberdrola Distribución has continued to increase its work in R&D&i projects, and particularly in Smart Grids, with a Spanish and European scope. The group's R&D&i activities in electric power distribution are geared to optimising the distribution network, particularly in the areas of occupational safety and the environment, and to improving the quality of the supply. In 2017, the company becomes a pioneer in digitisation, with over ten million smart meters installed.
PROJECTS BY GEOGRAPHICAL AREAS
Through its subsidiary, Iberdrola Distribución Eléctrica, Iberdrola has started a new and original project which involves the inspection of power lines using a helicopter equipped with cutting-edge technology. This innovative system features a LIDAR camera (Laser Imaging Detection and Ranging), which can scan the terrain with a low-power laser. This technology is used in conjunction with the photogrammetry technology to gather accurate information about the installations (georeferenced data, images and charts) and about the distances to nearby objects or areas. The helicopter is also equipped with an infrared thermography camera, which measures the temperature of the installations to detect hot points, and an additional camera to take high-resolution pictures. The purpose of this project is to gather power line and additional information about the surrounding environment and to detect potential grid anomalies.
CARTOLIDAR Project. Power line inspection. Video voice transcription (Spanish version) [PDF]
Likewise, Iberdrola leads the UPGRID project, which seeks to reinforce its capacity as an integrator of active demand and distributed low-voltage generation solutions. The IGREENGrid project for developing accurate methods that can be used to integrate renewable energies into electricity distribution grids and the DISCERN project for comparing different smart grid solutions to discover the optimal arrangement of architectures were successfully completed. Activity has continued on the GRID+STORAGE project, with the purpose of integrating storage solutions into electrical grids.
IGREENGrid Project, focused on Smart Grids impact. Video voice transcription (Spanish version) [PDF]
The LAYCA project in Spain is particularly salient as it seeks to develop a system for locating breakdowns and characterising faults in medium-voltage grids. For the standardisation and maintenance of overhead lines, Iberdrola leads the MATUSALEN project to develop a tool to ascertain the ageing of medium-voltage cables in underground lines and participates as a partner in the SILECTRIC project, focusing on developing new insulators for overhead lines and high-voltage switchgear. The TABON project for developing line verification and inspection technology has finished. In line with the operating systems, development and validation continues on the new remote management system (STG), which will enable immediate and reliable access to necessary information, integrating diverse modules for efficiently managing the electricity grid and fleet of meters. The BIDELEK project has concluded its innovation activity focused on developing and industrialising new applications and equipment.
Some of the most prominent projects in the United Kingdom include FITNESS, which seeks to demonstrate a new concept for digital substations; PHOENIX, which aims to develop a new synchronous hybrid compensator that will allow greater use of renewable energy in situations of conventional generation restriction, POWER2TOWER, which examines the feasibility of a transmission network monitoring system through wireless communications platforms mounted on supports; and VWAM, which analyses the virtual models of overhead power lines developed using LIDAR technology.
In Brazil, innovation projects focus on five main areas: smart grids, network quality and reliability, facility safety, loss reduction and sustainability. The projects for developing national smart grid technology are particularly noteworthy, namely BID MONITOR for developing a system to support decision-making in electricity sales, and CIUDADE INTELIGENTE for implementing an urban reference model based on Smart Grids.
In the Andradina region, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles are being used to improve grid quality and reliability. These drones have a 40-minute flight range and can reach areas that would otherwise be hard to access, allowing transmission lines to be inspected more quickly and efficiently. The purpose of using this technology is to prevent power cuts by closely monitoring cables, structures and vegetation. The equipment can be used in scheduled inspections and emergency operations — such as after a storm — and will be controlled by two operators. In 2018, an estimated 1,500 km of transmission lines will be inspected by drones.
In the United States, the outstanding initiatives included in the Energy Smart Community (ESC) program aim to efficiently connect consumers, the community and the market for distributed energy resources. ESC includes improvement projects in the areas of efficiency, consumer experience, smart grids and distributed energy resources. The AMI project for automating measurement infrastructures and the ARIES project for evaluating damages caused by weather phenomena using LIDAR technology are still under way. There is also remarkable work being done with drones in this same area to detect damage caused by snowstorms in distribution and transmission lines.
The Iberdrola Technology Centre in Qatar focuses on developing innovative solutions in three key areas in electrical system digitisation: (1) smart metering and grid automation, (2) distributed renewable energy integration and (3) demand management. In addition to initiating several R&D projects with local universities and research centres, the company has initiated consulting projects with further Middle East utilities, transferring best practices in the design and deployment of smart grids.