For the sake of CIMplicity

For the sake of CIMplicity

April 20, 2022
Time to read: 8 minutes
Morten Hansen

Like almost every other industry today, the power system is changing. Electrification worldwide is increasing, bringing with it the challenges of stable power supply, increasing energy costs, and long-term sustainability across the energy industry. As we know, digitalization always comes up as a potential solution – but along with it, even more challenges.

That’s why it’s time to talk about CIM, and DSOs, the IEC, CENS… the grid is flooded with abbreviations! With all these abbreviations it’s easy to get confused and sometimes it feels like no one is speaking the same language anymore. Luckily, that’s exactly what Kongsberg Digital is trying to solve by supporting CIM standards through our digital twin Kognitwin.


CIM, or Common Information Model, is a standard that allows software to exchange information about electrical networks in the electric power industry. Imagine a group of people from different countries who all speak a different language coming together, and they need a way to communicate. What’s the easiest way to do that? Speak a common language that everyone understands, a lingua franca – like English. CIM has the same idea. Core systems speak different ‘languages’, and when a CIM interface is implemented, these languages can connect in a Common Network Model (CNM, another abbreviation for you!) to unify data and create a single source of truth for anyone that needs to collect or exchange data about their grid model. Instead of integrating systems that may use different data formats, the CNM can be used as the central place to get standardized and more reliable data.

CIM standards are developed by the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) and are versatile enough to be applied to both grid models and market exchanges. These standards facilitate the exchange of data related to equipment, topology, power system state variables, and data that helps with load flow simulations to facilitate better predictions about operational risks in the grid.


Why is it so important for these systems to interact using a common language? As the energy system is getting more complex, with sharp increases in electrification accompanied by a phaseout of conventional fossil fuel power generation and more intermittent and distributed energy sources, the existing electricity grid infrastructure as well as how the electricity market works today will need to change. The energy systems are slowly decentralizing to include more actors, data, and types of energy, creating a more complex system that requires new ways of working. Distribution System Operators (DSOs) need a way to gain more value from the data available across operations, handle bidirectional power flow, facilitate flexible services, and enable equipment and software to communicate.

One of the ways to elevate the potential of CIM standards for even more sustainable and optimized grid operations is to apply digital twin technology for smarter, more cost-efficient processes and decision making. The key to making technology like a digital twin work lies in the ability to exchange information from various sources at any stage for broader contextualization of operations, making it easy to understand why CIM is a fitting solution to connect data and enable data sharing worldwide.


Let’s take a more practical example of how CIM works with our industrial work surface Kognitwin, which creates a Google Maps-style view of an operator’s grid to help with visualizing load flows. Our cloud solution is agnostic and able to ingest data from the NIS (Network Information System), documentation, and historical data to build a digital twin of your grid network. The data is mapped and contextualized in a virtual grid model, unlocking the power of digital visualization for easier oversight. A CIM interface is implemented to enable the transfer of data between Kognitwin and other systems that have implemented a CIM interface.

Kognitwin with a CIM interface that supports the flow of data across systems provides users with the ability to:

  • Access and visualize a full load flow analysis of the entire grid with current load, and a forecast for the next 48 hours using the twin’s forecast technology
  • Identify bottlenecks in the grid before they occur
  • Execute short- and long-term planning to help mitigate the risk of outages, voltage deviations, and congestions
  • Support the reduction of operating costs and CENS (Cost of Energy Not Supplied) by providing decision support
  • Highlight incorrect data in core systems, like the lack of connectivity or electrical information, increasing the company’s data quality across systems

With the addition of CIM standards to the virtual mapping of your grid network and operations, Kognitwin brings the openness and access to data that many DSOs need across systems to better understand which data needs to be looked at when, and where. With time series information, manufacturing data, and connectivity in the same place, it becomes more meaningful. Kognitwin is your insight module to contextualize data from various sources, allowing the user to go from just looking at rows of data to visualizing operations and making more confident decisions.


CIM is not necessarily a quick fix to problems like bad data quality and a faster speed to digitalization, especially when it comes to challenges like compliance, maintaining interoperability, and existing data standards and requirements worldwide. However, it is a way for customers to take a major first step in their digital journeys. The value lies in being able to take data from one system to another and validate its accuracy – and when more vendors and operators use this common model, standardization can be embedded over time so that the entire system speaks the same language.By using CIM, the market – including those that rely on legacy systems for information – will be able to build operations on standards that help unleash the potential of all the data caught up in separate systems. Adopting CIM standardization throughout the industry will be a marathon and not a sprint. That’s why selecting a trusted industry partner with a product that evolves along with the power system is the best starting point.


We’re here to help. Get in touch with our Growth Manager for Utilities Marianne Blikø to learn more about what Kognitwin can do for you.

About the author

For the sake of CIMplicity

Morten Hansen

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