The energy system is evolving rapidly, taking on a more flexible, decentralized form to support the ever-expanding uptake of renewable energy and DERs. The critical infrastructure that coordinates the energy system, SCADA, EMS and DMS, must evolve alongside it, delivering real-time intelligent control and supervision of exponentially more generation units, balancing supply and demand with intermittent resources and managing bidirectional flows in traditionally unidirectional infrastructure.
This represents an extreme shift in the architecture, operational philosophy as well as the hardware and software requirements of smart grid SCADA infrastructure. And with the energy transition rapidly taking root, it’s imperative that utilities keep the pace and deliver the necessary changes that will continue the smooth operation of the energy system in an increasingly fossil-free world.
So where are utilities applying their efforts in the next few years to deliver these vital capabilities?
- DER Management
To effectively balance an energy system based on decentralized generation, utilities must be able to reliably deliver the full range of ancillary services, from ultimately unreliable, intermittent generation resources. There are two areas utilities are focussed on in order to achieve this. Firstly, developing accurate forecasting capabilities will allow them to predict renewable resources ahead of time and inform effective operational decision-making. Secondly, integrating SCADA infrastructure more closely with the evolving energy market, and in particular, distributed energy aggregators, will facilitate the simpler provision of grid services from large volumes of small generation units.
- Modular Design
Although utilities are rapidly evolving their SCADA capabilities to meet the demands of the energy transition, there is still a distinct lack of certainty over the exact shape these demands will take in the future. Accordingly, utilities must evolve their infrastructure in such a way that it remains agile and able to adapt to new challenges as they arise. Many utilities are exploring ways of modularizing their SCADA architecture to deliver this, with the aim of enabling parallel development of capabilities and more flexibility in overall system configuration. But breaking a centralized system down into modules carries severe continuity risks, and effective master data management and the use of standards such as CIM will be crucial to success.
Much of the development required of SCADA infrastructure brings with it significantly elevated cybersecurity risks. Greater reliance on IoT and sensor data drastically increases the attack surface of utility SCADA, while closer integrations with enterprise and external systems opens up new threat vectors for malicious actors. Utilities must therefore temper their development of SCADA infrastructure with equal measures of cybersecurity mitigation, including the deployment of new technology solutions such as IDS, but also the application of the latest standards such as IEC 62351.
It is clear that smart grid utilities have a great deal of work to do to deliver the SCADA infrastructure required by a decarbonizing society. These three areas represent key focus points for the next phase of development but are by no means a comprehensive to-do list for utility SCADA teams.
At NextGen SCADA Global 2020, taking place 27-31 January 2020 in Berlin, the full range of crucial utility SCADA topics will be tackled by in-depth case studies from some of the world’s most advanced utilities, including TenneT, DEWA, Stedin, Statnett, Westnetz, Elia and many more. With a pre-conference System Integration Workshop and a post-conference Cybersecurity Seminar accompanying the main conference 3-day conference, this is a truly one-stop shop for those looking to drive forward their SCADA infrastructure and deliver a truly decentralized energy system.
Find out more at: https://www.smartgrid-forums.com/SCADA20GEOPRE
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