Smart Grid Technologies: Distribution Automation, Microgrids, and Cyber Security
The recognition of the contributions and challenges of the distribution system for delivering the generated power to the end consumer with high availability, reliability, and efficiency has increased the responsibility of the distribution system owners and operators. Accordingly, this segment of the entire delivery chain is now seeing increased focus on developing and strengthening the network both in terms of equipment installation and implementing automation solutions.Further as the percentage or penetration of renewables increases in a power system, it becomes imperative to have grid level power balancing using energy storage systems. Microgrids are expected to form an inherent component in the grid system with localized generation and storage as close to the load centers as possible. It also makes sense to encourage shifting the loads to a time of the day when there is surplus energy available in the system through “Demand Response.” The urgent need of making the grid “SMART” has made the Operational Technology (OT) systems which were otherwise in a secure network to handshake with the external systems for data and information exchange. This induces a sense of insecurity to the operational assets of the utilities. Thus, when a utility is implementing various solutions and integrating these systems for data exchanges, the systems need not only be interoperable but also need to be secure. This technical paper will discuss the various Distribution Automation technologies, the Microgrids concept, and the cyber security vulnerabilities and mitigation techniques.