The aim of the study is to promote the integration of state-of-the-art satellite telecommunication and Earth observation technologies with power grid management systems. The activity is carried out by Carlo Gavazzi Space SpA in close collaboration with TERNA SpA (user) , the primary owner of the Italian National High Voltage Electricity Transmission Grid (NTG), with nearly 60 thousand km of lines throughout the national territory. TERNA is the first independent operator in Europe and the seventh in the world in terms of kilometres of lines managed. The main objective of the study is to assess the technical feasibility and economical viability of a specific core of satellite-based services and to define the roadmap to their pre-operational development and demonstration.
In 2006 Carlo Gavazzi Space has initiated a systematic study on the potential added value of integrating different space technologies in the management of power grids. The study has been carried out in close partnership with TERNA, a major energy transmission grid operator in Italy. The concept of the "SpaceGrid" system has been elaborated, whereby Satellite Earth Observation imagery and Satellite Communications are integrated in the Power Grid Management system in order to provide an innovative tool for facing current and rapidly evolving needs of power grid managers. A core of services has been defined, focused to electricity dispatching and power grid inspection operations. The objective of the "SpaceGrid Feasibility Study" is to assess the technical feasibility and economical viability of such a core of services supported by integrated space assets and to define the roadmap to their pre-operational development and demonstration.
Users and their needs
TERNA is the target User. TERNA is a major energy transmission grid operator. The company is the primary owner of the National High Voltage Electricity Transmission Grid (NTG), with nearly 60 thousand km of lines throughout the national territory. TERNA is the first independent operator in Europe and the seventh in the world in terms of kilometres of lines managed. The company is also responsible for the transmission and dispatching of energy throughout the entire territory, and therefore for the safe management of the balance between electricity supply and demand in Italy, 365 days a year and 24 hours a day. TERNA is an outstanding Italian company with over 3500 employees that are daily involved in guaranteeing the electricity system's safety throughout the national territory. The Company manages grid planning, development and maintenance by providing know-how and technology in order to improve grid efficiency.
General TERNA needs in power grid management are the following:
- Improve the operations effectiveness
- Improve the quality of its services
- Improve competitiveness and safety
- Reduce overall costs
Satellite technologies have shown the potential of providing adequate tools and solutions to support TERNA activities in order to fulfil the above needs.
Service/ system concept
The first phase of the project aims at defining a service concept customized to meet the specific requirements of power grid operators. TERNA work procedures and operational workflows are being studied and analyzed during this current study to identify the correct interfaces for SpaceGrid services. This task is meant to facilitate the smooth transition to operational use of the SpaceGrid services once these services will have been validated in an completed ARTES 20 Demonstration Project (SpaceGrid phase 2).
Space Added Value
Added values of satellite based communications in the grid management are:
- Rapid deployment of communication links for new plants (mainly renewable energy plants)
- Ability to reach remote sites
- Availability in emergency conditions
Added values of satellite Earth Observation data in the grid management are:
- Ability to inspect remote and/or unreachable sites of the grid infrastructure
- systematic, highly repeatable and synoptic measurements
- Non invasive inspection of the territory where the grid is located
- Independency of the measurement of meteorological parameters affecting renewable energy production (solar, wind, water)
- Availability of historical data archive
The "SpaceGrid" system and associated services - subject of the feasibility study - are expected to support the TERNA activities of energy dispatching and grid maintenance with the following services:
- Monitoring of vegetation and buildings close to the power grid lines.
- Monitoring of subsidence of the pylons of the power grid lines in unstable areas.
- Support to Wind Power Prediction Systems.
- Satellite communications back-up links.
The feasibility study includes as tasks the definition of user requirements, a state of the art analysis of the space and terrestrial assets that are able to contribute to a system, the system and service definition, a viability analysis covering economic and non-economic aspects, and the generation of a roadmap and implementation plan for a follow-on demonstration project.
Nowadays, the efficient transmission and dispatching of electricity is fundamental in order to guarantee to European Union activities and its citizens the necessary energy resources. The growing complexity of the networks, due to the always increasing number of interconnections and of renewable energy sources, calls for a more efficient management and control of the energy production, transmission and dispatching. Integration of satellite based technologies and services, in the grid management, is expected to provide assistance in support of new and emerging needs of power grid management. Currently the level of integration of satellite technologies in the management of power grids is negligible.
Expected benefits brought by the integration of the identified Satellite based services in the grid dispatching and inspection operation are:
- improved availability of communication links in emergency and contingency situations;
- rapid deployment of communications link in remote areas (e.g.: new wind farms);
- improved efficiency in grid inspection operation, with reduction of maintenance costs;
- improved accuracy of wind power production predictions.
The study will focus on a set of cost efficient satellite based services optimized to meet the operational requirements related to TERNA grid Maintenance (DIREZIONE MANTENIMENTO IMPIANTI) and energy Dispatching (DIREZIONE DISPACCIAMENTO E CONDUZIONE) activities.
The first phase has been successfully completed in October 2010. The SPACEGRID prototype system has been designed, following the positive results of the Cost/Benefit analysis made by TERNA. The proposal for the implementation and demonstration of the SPACEGRID prototype system in the next phase of the project (Spacegrid phase 2) has been outlined.