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Fundamentals of Substation Automation

Substation automation is the set of technologies that support the digital transformation of substation operations. It enables substation engineers to monitor and control substations more efficiently while improving their situational awareness. Operational efficiency, reliability, and safety are always top of mind for electrical grid operators.

New technologies must be deployed to keep the lights on while lowering operational costs in an always-on world with an ever-increasing demand on the grid. Substation automation is one such technology. It automates functions in a substation so that engineers have more time to focus on high-value tasks. This article covers all you need to know about substation automation and its implementation at your utility or industrial site.

Power System Automation

Power system automation is when computers and Intelligent electronic devices (IEDs) are used to make and send power. The automated system inside the substation gets information from various sources and uses that information to monitor and control the system that delivers power. Automation in a power system controls how it works and keeps an eye on it the same way an operator would.

What are IEDs in the Automation of Substations?

Intelligent electronic devices (IEDs) are used for substation automation, which integrates automated technology into the substation. Automation of substations is meant to “optimize the management of capital assets and improve the efficiency of operation and maintenance” (EEP). Companies can save money in the long run by removing the need for people to operate substations.

In the traditional method, which didn’t use IEDs, “the instrument transformers were hardwired to the relays, and the trip signals from the relays were hardwired to the circuit breakers” (EEP). In the modern method, IED is a preferred choice. “Instrument transformers will send information to relay IEDs via LAN, and relays will then exchange information via LAN..” (EEP).

What are Automation Tasks?

For substation automation to work, expensive and unique pieces of equipment are needed to ensure the automation system can do various tasks. Among these tasks are:

  1. Electrical protection is getting better and more reliable.
  2. Problem finding
  3. Controlling the display in real-time
  4. Using a remote control to give a supervisor more power
  5. The integrity and safety of the power grid were improved, and interlocking functions were added.
  6. Intelligent load-shedding is an example of an advanced automation function.

What is a Substation Annunciator?

The Substation Annunciator combines decades of advancements in Alarm Annunciator technology and is your industrial facility’s most acceptable protection investment. Without the chance of a single component causing system failure, the modular multi-redundant design immediately offers the user a more robust and reliable system.

Substations in Modern Time

The emergence of microprocessor technology enhanced the intelligence of digital protection and control devices. New intelligent electronic devices (IEDs) may gather and record information on many different system parameters, process them in a fraction of a second based on complicated logic, and make choices in abnormal situations to transmit control commands to switches and breakers to clear the fault.

In addition to their improved processing capacity, current substation devices may store information in their internal memory for a predetermined time and transfer it to third-party applications for additional research and analysis. IEDs can now convey data to a local or remote user via various communication channels. It gives operators greater control over processing information, allowing for a swift substation outage recovery.

What are the Benefits of Substation Automation?

Automation of substations can play a crucial role in preventing power disruptions. Streamlining substation operations saves utility and power distribution personnel time and money by reducing the need for on-site service calls. End users also receive the benefits of substation automation, as fewer power disruptions translate to enhanced health, safety, and security within each community and better economic outcomes.

Conclusion:

Even though the benefits of substation automation are numerous, it’s important to remember that the human element is still essential for the protection of the grid. One can’t completely replace the human operator with an automated device. Thousands of miles of high-voltage transmission and distribution networks are monitored daily by people who ensure everything is working correctly. The goal of substation automation is to reduce the need for the human element as much as possible.

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