TECH experts at a top Irish research and innovation hub have teamed up with industry and carefully-selected global partners to catapult the age-old electricity grid into a future beyond 5G and ensure it is secure, stable and renewables compatible.
They’ve won significant, coveted European Commission backing to power the RESERVE and projects, both of which provide cutting-edge global solutions for the future grid and ensure it has a bright, sustainable future.
Strict renewable energy targets and the increased proliferation of solar, wind, and biomass are affecting the physics of the energy grid as classical networks are based on physical electromechanical systems.
A research team of the Telecommunications, Software and Systems Group (TSSG) at the Waterford Institute of Technology, is at the coalface, rethinking, re-designing, testing and future proofing the basics of grid control and grid automation. They are one of three Irish research partners on the project that has assembled with an expert team of European future grid specialists to work with industry and test solutions.
Industry challenges they’re addressing include substituting the role of synchronous machines in future power systems; making the grid more reactive to changes and working out with industry what role information and communication infrastructures will play in the future grid network and more.
It’s all being tested and validated in Ireland by the multi-skilled Irish team using pan-European, real-time simulation infrastructure with ESB Networks, project leader, Miguel Ponce de Leon explained.
“TSSG is looking at the impact of having such a large number of voltage measurement points in converters at electric generation and storage units in distribution grid network.
“We’re also evaluating how software applications, that run over new 5G networks, can provide the necessary performance to ensure a cost-effective solution to allow for scalability, ultra-low latency and very large capacity as well as network slicing and prioritised message transport.
“Our tried and tested solutions will be capable of supporting huge numbers of low-cost and low-energy communications devices, lasting for up to 10 years without on-site maintenance while also reducing the need for wireline connections – thus eliminating the need to dig if something does go wrong.”
ESB Networks Jonathan Sandham said: “Our grid needs to be future proofed and we’re very fortunate to be working with a multi-skilled, hands-on team at the TSSG to test and validate as we go. Work like this requires a huge amount of coordination and cooperation as well as a deep knowledge of the electricity and software industry and the challenges ahead. We’ve already made significant progress in securing electricity supply for generations to come.”
Through its work on SOGNO, the TSSG team is also providing cost-effective software services which allow energy suppliers to have real-time insights into the operation of their energy network. It sees TSSG combine its hardware, software and research activities to help build a future-proof, autonomous electrical grid management system. It will provide fine grained visibility and control of both medium voltage (MV) and low voltage (LV) power networks and thus ensure the electricity supply remains steady and secure no matter what the weather or circumstance.
Among those working across both projects is former carpenter turned coder, Dave Ryan. He lost his job in the downturn, upskilled and now works full-time across SOGNO and RESERVE.
“Carpentry requires a lot of mathematical skill and calculation. I really loved my job. I found out very quickly when I went to upskill that I loved coding. I did an Information Technology program, then Software Systems Development.
“I’ve totally reinvented myself. I’m developing software, doing lots of technical writing and travelling for meetings with the project partners all over the world. We’ve all the necessary expertise under one roof here at the TSSG to do absolutely anything. You just have to approach the right people. It’s like my toolbox of old – all the pieces are here but you have to go rummage.”
Media contact: Neans McSweeney, McSweeney Media (086) 2620 355