By Paul Clarkson, Senior Research Scientist, National Physical Laboratory, UK
Electricity networks are evolving to incorporate more smart grid technologies and integrate renewable generation, leading to active distribution grids where energy is fed in at the LV and MV levels. Knowledge of the topology and power flow of such grids is limited, but is vital to enable further integration of renewable and smart grid technologies, effective smart grid control and to ensure continuity of supply. To provide the necessary information for grid observation and control, networks of sensors placed at multiple points in the grid are required. One option would be to place sensors at every conceivable branch of the distribution network. However, such instrumentation is costly to install and maintain and operators would be overwhelmed with data. The alternative to this masscoverage approach is to mathematically specify the intelligent placement of sensors such that a correct balance can be found between instrumentation cost and providing information of sufficient quality for effective grid observation and control.