Substation Design –Digitizing & Simplifying

Learning how digitizing could positively influence your substation safety and efficiency overall.

The new substation standard

Most utility engineers now accept that digital substations are the new standard for modern electric systems.

In previous years, achieving optimal substation reliability, safety, ease of configuration, and cost savings was far more complicated than it is today. Now that digital substations exist, these goals are well within your reach.

Substations are now being made smarter than ever with new add-on intelligent technology that allow substation owners the freedom to gradually transition into a simpler, digitizing driven operating system.

In an in-depth essay on the topic of digital substations, researchers found that going digital can reduce cost while improving safety. Specifically covered in this essay was the EtherCAT-based method, claimed by researchers to be “the simplest point-to-point solution available.”

While moving over to a fully-digitized substation system may be tedious, David Shadle claims that “A fully digitized system utilizing 61850 standards provides interoperability at all levels from station to bay to process using digital sensors, merging units and nonconventional instrument transformers (NCITs).” Keeping systems as simple as possible is the goal. But as this goal is achieved, there are unique setbacks to be considered.

Cyber Security

A substation with digital designs is opened up to the new challenge of cyber-attacks. Because of this, cyber security is of the utmost importance in the electric industry. Security packages are now provided to substations that may otherwise be exposed.

Additionally, the North American Electric Reliability Corp. is creating standards for critical infrastructure protection (CIP) and encouraging the forward movement of substations that do not meet those standards.

Though it may be difficult for some substations to make the switch to digital technology from previous infrastructure, the transition will allow substations to properly respond to the advancing digital utility demand.