Smart-Grid Intelligence Facility for Taipower’s Tashan Power Plant in Kinmen
Across the globe, smart grids capable of monitoring electrical power systems are being built through a combination of information, communication, and automation technologies. Smart grids accelerate the development of renewable energies (such as wind and solar) and their utilization in existing power supply systems. Doing so is critical to improving the operational efficiency of electrical power systems and stabilizing supplies.
Yet, the operation of a power system—generating and transmitting electricity, changing the voltage level, and then delivering it to distribution lines that connect to individual customers—make it too sophisticated to be turned into a smart grid overnight. A more realistic way is through leveraging IEC 61850, an international standard for smart grids, to address the lack of interoperability of devices used by individual subsystems of a grid and the difficulties with integrating these devices.
Such a possibility has been put into practice by Intelligent Cloud Plus (ICP), who leveraged Advantech’s easy-to-learn and use SCADA graphics control program and an Advantech-branded hardware product that is compatible with power systems to build a smart-grid intelligence facility that converts a variety of closed communication protocols into IEC 61850 for Taiwan’s public power utility in Kinmen. In this intelligence facility, the operator can view power data on a display and assess the feasibility of new standards through remote monitoring and protocol conversion.
In Taiwan, the share of green energy delivered by the national power grid is expected to grow by the year. To reduce the negative impact of erratically produced and unevenly distributed energy on the conventional grid and to streamline the composition of the national electricity supply scheme, the state-owned utility Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) launched a project to shift its business onto a smart grid built around an IEC 61850-based monitoring framework. The project began on Kinmen (an outlying island of Taiwan), where the IEC 61850-based smart grid is now being tested and demonstrated. The outcome of the project will be taken into serious consideration when it is replicated on Taiwan’s mainland.
This project, which entailed the construction of an intelligence facility to manage an IEC 61850-based smart grid, was kicked off at the Tashan Power Plant on Kinmen. ICP won the tender to undertake this project because the company is a system integrator specializing in intelligent energy applications and has a broad range of experience with successful industry-academy collaboration.
As requested by Taipower, ICP developed a demo smart-grid system based on IEC 61850. The system was installed at an intelligence facility to present information on the plant’s power consumption, generation, and fuel usage in the form of a straightforward chart on a 75-inch display. The system consisted of hardware and software products developed by Advantech:
- a gateway that conformed to the standards of electricity use and converted data into a format specified to IEC 61850;
- a redundancy mechanism that ensured the system’s stability and data accuracy;
- a computer host that was powerful and robust enough to process massive volumes of data;
- And the SCADA graphics control program and secondary development tools, which were used to capture data and manage it in a centralized way.
Specifically, Advantech provided the following hardware and software products for ICP to design the IEC 61850 smart-grid system: ECU-4784 (a power automation computer), ECU-P1524PE (an Ethernet card that supports a protocol for transmitting redundant data), HPC-7242 (a server-grade industrial computer), WISE-PaaS/EnSaaS (an industrial IoT cloud platform service) and WebAccess/SCADA (a browser-based program for remote graphics control).
All of the Advantech-branded hardware devices operated inside an equipment cabinet in the IEC61850 smart-grid intelligence facility at the Tashan Power Plant. Of these devices, the HPC-7242 computer preprocessed data provided by the OPC server operating at the power station and transferred it to two ECU-4784 units that formed as a redundant pair and functioned as a gateway for converting the data into the IEC61850 format. The demo smart-grid system, developed based on WebAccess/SCADA, retrieved real-time generator-related data (converted by the ECU-4784 gateway into the IEC61850 format) from another HPC-7242 and presented it in the form of plain-looking line, pie, and area charts on three large displays in the intelligence facility.
The redundant pair of the ECU-4784 computers—certified under IEC 61850-3—safeguarded signals from external disturbances to prevent data errors. Equipped with ECU-P1524PE (which supported the parallel redundancy protocol and high-availability seamless redundancy), the ECU-4784 units worked as a gateway with the advantages of being latency-free. Network-redundancy enabled the smart grid to communicate securely and reliably over the Internet.
HPC-7242, a secure, reliable, and robust server-grade computer, operated normally 24/7—even in harsh environments. Featuring high-performance specs, it also provided vast number computing and storage resources that could be expanded through industrial automation, power monitoring, or intelligent energy applications.
The smart-grid project involved three software programs: WISE-PaaS/EnSaaS and WISE-PaaS/WISE.M+ at the cloud level, and WebAccess/SCADA at the edge level. Together, they achieved seamless integration from the edge to the cloud. Moreover, this software combination included a dashboard that allowed system integrators to visually display data captured from physical devices. The dashboard offered a variety of handy tools and image banks—equipping developers to produce colorful and straightforward operation screens. Engineers from ICP spoke highly of this convenience, stating that with just a few minutes of drag-and-drop operation and configuration on the dashboard, they could create elements which would otherwise take several days to complete, starting with artistic design and ending with development. WebAccess/SCADA made the project considerably easier to implement and maintain. This Web-based monitoring program allowed the developer to diagnose and upgrade the smart-grid system remotely on a typical browser.
As the world is embracing the smart-grid standard of IEC 61850 and incorporating intelligent technologies into management models for existing power grids, the key challenge is ensuring this shift does not disrupt the grid or render it vulnerable to malfunction in a manner that will harm the broader economy.
Such unwanted outcomes are precluded by ICP’s solution to building intelligence facilities for smart-grid power monitoring. Designed with ICP’s software products and Advantech’s ECU-4784 computers, it is the only solution for smart-grid power monitoring in Taiwan that is certified under IEC 61850 by the UCA International Users Group—a certification that testifies to its reliability. Equipped with a redundancy mechanism, the solution prevents system shut-down, data loss, and other consequences that would arise if no redundancy were in place.
By using this smart-grid intelligence facility, Taipower adopted IEC 61850 and can now present real-time data on well-designed charts. The company is testing the relevancy of new standards and developing a practical plan for the deployment of systems and terminal devices used in a smart grid. As this happens, Advantech and ICP will continue working together to craft more smart-grid solutions that meet the needs of our customers.