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Smart Grid Timing & Synchronisation

As the world pivots towards sustainable energy solutions and seeks to relegate fossil fuels to the past, the integration of Renewable Energy Sources (RES) and Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) into power grids is at the forefront of this transformation. In the ever-evolving area of modern power grids and their vast infrastructure across Europe, the integration of advanced technologies and renewable energy sources will be crucial in ensuring that reliability, efficiency, and resilience is guaranteed for millions of EU communities, businesses, and citizens.

However, a transition of this scale and ambition necessitates advanced grid monitoring and balancing techniques, with a critical emphasis on precise timing and synchronisation. In this blog post, we explore the role of Timing & Synchronisation (T&S) in power grids, its importance for the increasing desire to utilise renewable energy across the European continent and beyond, and how the RESPONDENT project’s novel use of Galileo services is reshaping the landscape of grid operation.

The Significance of Timing & Synchronisation in Modern Power Grids

With the rapid evolution of smart grids has come Wide Area Measurement/Control Systems (WAMS/WACS), designed to meet the real-time monitoring and control that is demanded of contemporary power grids. At the heart of these systems are Phasor Measurement Units (PMUs), providing time-stamped measurements of voltage and current phasors across the grid. 

While legacy systems have traditionally relied on SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) for slow transient phenomena, PMUs offer a more dynamic approach that are able to identify faster transient phenomena, crucial for efficient network operation, stability, and reliability.

Challenges and Vulnerabilities

Due to the current dependence on GPS for timing synchronisation, the system is exposed to a host of vulnerabilities, such as signal losses, interference, jamming, and spoofing. Traditional methods fall short in guaranteeing a safe and secure monitoring and control of the grid, particularly as power grids expand and integrate distributed power sources. 

As power grids expand and increasingly seek to adopt multiple renewable energy sources, the demand for increased time synchronisation and accuracy becomes paramount. While useful, the reliance on network-based techniques often necessitates extended, costly, and hard-wired infrastructures to provide the needed time reference.

RESPONDENT’s Innovative Solution

In response to these challenges, the RESPONDENT project will pioneer an innovative Galileo-enabled T&S scheme for smart grid WAMS. Unlike conventional methods, RESPONDENT integrates high-accuracy Galileo receivers into Commercial-off-the-Shelf (COTS) PMUs, resulting in a new Galileo-enabled T&S functionality for grid operations. This strategic move aims to eliminate vulnerabilities associated with GPS dependency and enhance the accuracy and resilience of power grid operations, ensuring sub-microsecond-level accuracy to the grid in a continuous and robust manner.

 

RESPONDENT’s Galileo-based T&S architecture

 

Key features of RESPONDENT’s approach to T&S include:

Galileo-Based PMU Timing and Synchronisation 

  • RESPONDENT proposes a scheme that integrates Galileo receivers into PMUs, offering precise timing information and reducing reliance on GPS signals.

Compatibility with Existing PMU Devices 

  • The project ensures that the Galileo receivers are seamlessly integrated into existing PMU devices, requiring appropriate hardware and software interfaces for optimal performance.

Cloud-Based Monitoring Module 

  • RESPONDENT introduces a cloud-based PMU signal monitoring module and dashboard, providing a remote tool for acquiring, displaying, and analysing time-stamped measurements from Galileo-enabled PMUs.

Enhanced Grid Operation

  • The Galileo-enabled PMUs contribute to a reliable and robust grid operation by improving measurement accuracy, reducing response time, and increasing the resilience of power grids against timing malfunctions and cyberattacks.

Stability and Security

As we envision a sustainable and climate-friendly energy landscape, RESPONDENT’s innovative use of Timing & Synchronisation reframes the future of power grids worldwide and offers a transformative approach in their future operation. 

By reducing vulnerabilities and enhancing precision, RESPONDENT contributes to the development of future-proof PMUs and reinforces the stability and security of power grids. This ground-breaking approach aligns with the global mission to accelerate the uptake of renewable energy resources and combat climate change, making RESPONDENT a trailblazer in the quest for a sustainable energy future.

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