Power grids on the “last mile” between substations and individual households are a crucial factor of the energy transition and as such more challenged than ever before. Today, many households feed energy into the grids. At the same time, electromobility is increasingly developing into a new large-scale consumer. As the basis for efficient and forward-looking grid expansion, information on the actual load of the distribution grids is therefore becoming increasingly important for grid operators.
As one of the first distribution grid operators in Germany, Netze BW is investing in the digitalization of its substations on a large scale. To do so, the company relies on the current sensor “SMIGHT Grid” that was jointly developed with the EnBW start-up SMIGHT. The innovative sensor measures the current intensity at the individual outlets – i. e. the cables through which the power is transported from the substation to the households. Measured data is encrypted and transferred in real time via mobile networks to the IoT platform SMIGHT IQ. There, the data is stored, evaluated and then made available to the grid operator in a web portal. Thus, the current sensor is the first measuring system available on the market using IoT technology for the large scale and permanent data acquisition in the distribution grid.
Netze BW installs 18,000 measuring points in substations
“The number of electric cars will increase. As a leading grid operator, it is our responsibility to be one step ahead of this development and to identify where and with what measures we need to expand our grid and make it more intelligent,” says Hendrik Adolphi, who is responsible for technical plant management electricity/gas at Netze BW. Therefore, 550 substations in Baden-Württemberg will be equipped with current sensors over the next weeks. In total, this will create around 18,000 digital measuring points that will collect and transmit data every fifteen minutes.
Current sensor closes data gap
Conventional substations have their own measuring unit, the so-called maximum indicator, which only shows the highest measured total consumption of a station. Grid operators usually read off this value manually every four years. In contrast, the SMIGHT Grid sensor measures the current at the individual outlets and thus provides detailed information on how much electricity is used when and in which street overall. Compared to conventional measuring solutions, the current sensor is designed for permanent use. Thanks to the installation app, it takes a maximum of 60 minutes to equip all outlets of a substation with sensors and a gateway.
Image: The substation in Malmsheim/Renningen is one of 550 stations where Netze BW is installing the current sensor SMIGHT Grid (Copyright: SMIGHT/ARTIS-Uli Deck).