Smart grid news: Schneider wins in NE England; former CIA chief gives warning

Electricity North West Schneider Electric deal
Distribution network operator Electricity North West will implement the distribution management system over three years in a bid to self-heal outages

In the UK, an electricity distribution network operator in the North West of England has awarded Schneider Electric a three-year contract to deliver smart grid technology.

Schneider will supply Electricity North West with a distribution management system in a bid to self-heal outages, gather data to improve network efficiency as well as integrate renewable energy sources.

In the past 11 months, Electricity North West has quoted for over 1,800 network connections for distributed generation.

The project, which will span three years in design, delivery and integration, will be the foundation of smart grid technology in the region, the pair said in a statement.

Electricity North West will use the distribution management system to “better equip the network to manage the peaks and troughs of supply and demand”.

The system will support decisions made by control room and field personnel as well as use algorithms to automate system management and response to changes in the network.

Steve Cox, head of Engineering at Electricity North West, said: “Over the next eight years, the existing energy infrastructure, designed for a one way flow of energy, will have to deal with a level of complexity never before seen.

“Future-proofing our systems to cope with this change was absolutely paramount in our choice of who to work with.

He added: “The modularity of the system that Schneider Electric is able to provide means that we can expand and improve our system according to our needs.

The UK is expected to have 10 million homes with solar panels by 2020 and the number of electric vehicles sold will increase to 6.4 million by 2023.

US grid ‘vulnerable’ says former CIA chief

In other smart grid news, in the US a former CIA director says the Obama administration hasn’t done nearly enough to protect the nation from attacks to America’s information and critical infrastructure systems.

R. James Woolsey, who served as director of the Central Intelligence in the Clinton administration, told WND/Radio America that: “The president has to put this first on his list because we are very vulnerable, and we will stay vulnerable until some key things get fixed.

“The ablest, best, smartest and shrewdest people have not been paying attention to security for the grid, and we’re starting to pay the price.”

Mr Woolsey said supervisory control and data acquisition systems left infrastructure vulnerable to a “domino effect” if compromised.

He said: “We’re an Internet of things now as people say, and they seem to think that’s a great idea, but one reason that it’s not a great idea is that all the things – computers, railroad, signals, etc. – talk to one another.

“If you can get one going wrong and you can do it smartly, you can foul up everything it’s connected to. That could be a massive disaster, particularly with something like the US electric grid.”

He added: “The president needs to say this is the country’s No. 1 priority.

“It’s not just cyber. An electromagnetic pulse could take down the grid and take down a lot of other systems. This needs to be a mobilization of the very best and brightest. We need to be able to break rules and move fast.”