Utilities across the world are increasingly focusing on distribution automation (DA) to improve grid reliability, efficiency and capacity. As energy demands increase and power-hungry new technologies such as electrical vehicles proliferate, utilities need to seek new ways to meet peak-load requirements.
Volt-VAR optimisation is an increasingly popular choice, which reduces losses from distribution and hence transmission, can increase much-needed capacity to help meet future demand while lowering reliance on carbon-emitting generation sources. By coordinating devices throughout the energy grid and adding layered intelligence, utilities are able to achieve greater operating efficiency. Such optimisation of the grid can help mitigate the need for additional asset purchases by enhancing the productivity of a utility’s legacy asset base. Thus, utilities can almost immediately begin to realise the financial and quality benefits of the smart grid. Three major benefits from these programs are as follows:
- Enhanced grid capacity. Advanced Volt-VAR control solutions reduce the need to generate VARs, making it possible to better maintain system stability and enhance transmission capacity. By improving communication and coordination between capacitors on the feeder, hunting and cycling can be eliminated as controls work in greater synchronisation.
- Reduced losses. Effective Volt-VAR optimisation solutions can also help reduce losses that occur during the distribution of electricity, enabling utilities to lower their energy purchases and the associated greenhouse gas emissions.
- Reduced peak demand. Using advanced solutions to achieve Volt-VAR control will also allow utilities to reduce peak demand through voltage conservation. Unlike the uncertainty of other demand response approaches, these solutions enable utilities to maintain full control of the program and do not rely on consumers taking action as part of an energy home management program, or as part of a load control program that turns off their air conditioners. Volt-VAR controls can be quickly and easily deployed, delivering benefits immediately, while offering the flexibility of being tied into any future deployment of a larger enterprise-wide system.
In addition to economic and operational benefits, empirical data collected over time from the Volt-VAR system can help identify design inadequacies on the system, making future optimisation efforts far more effective.
What do you think is the most important benefit of Volt-VAR optimisation solutions? Please use the comment form to share your views.