4G wireless technology proof of concept demonstrated for grid automation


Prof. Lars
Nordström, KTH
Stockholm, Sweden — (METERING.COM) — March 5, 2012 – A proof of concept demonstrator using 4G wireless technology, also known as LTE (Long Term Evolution), for substation automation has been developed and tested at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in collaboration with Ericsson.

With 4G, the transfer of information has reached the level required for operation and maintenance of critical infrastructure. The technology offers a guarantee of quality and a future-proof uniform standard. With a clear roadmap for future improvements, such as LTE-Advanced, wireless broadband technology becomes applicable in areas with high demands on reliability and availability.

“We have simulated a number of cases and found that the technology works,” commented Professor Lars Nordström of KTH. “The information is transferred as predicted, and switching is done automatically in our substation models.”

Enabling problems that occur inside a substation to be identified and rectified by means of wireless communication can save a great amount of time and resources. In a country such as Sweden as electricity travels from power plants to residential areas, it passes through many thousands of substations and transformers. In rural areas, these are often remotely located.

“This type of cooperation is very valuable for us,” added Craig Donovan of Ericsson. “The progress within communication technology constantly opens new areas of application. The fact that 4G technology can be used to manage and control the grid is beneficial for all of society.”

The tests also showed that existing mobile networks can be made secure against sabotage. However, in some cases, power companies are likely to choose to invest in their own networks. In Australia, Ericsson has been contracted to build a private LTE network for Ausgrid.

The next step is to field-test the technology. This will be done at nine substations in Norra Djurgårdsstaden in Stockholm, located not far from KTH.

Once that phase is completed, the technology may be mature enough for commercialization. The first potential customers are companies that own power grids and are responsible for the distribution of electricity between generators and consumers.

The project is being carried out under the framework of InnoEnergy, a European company fostering the integration of education, technology, business and entrepreneurship.