Shaping the future of electricity grids through flexibility

Shaping the future of electricity grids through flexibility

December 17, 2023
Time to read: 8 minutes
Kongsberg Digital

Kongsberg Digital has recently completed a project aimed at enabling increased use of flexibility in grid operations. Here’s everything you need to know about technology for smart grids, the project, and what it tells us about how digitalisation can shape the future of the power grid.

While we often hear about the energy transition, we hear less about the central role of power grids in the current and future energy landscape. Traditionally designed as a centralised energy generation model, the power grid is struggling to keep pace with higher demand and the integration of new intermittent energy sources (like wind and solar) into the grid to manage bidirectional energy flows. And then there’s the problem of aging infrastructure that needs to be refurbished.

According to the IEA, these challenges are so significant that ‘grids risk becoming the weak link of clean energy transitions.’

Digital solutions can help

Grid operation and investments are complex, requiring several systems and data sources to get a full overview of what’s happening where in the grid. Digitalisation offers a way to deal with all this data and make it useful for improved grid utilisation.

Making smart grids a reality

An electrical grid that is enhanced with digital technology is called a smart grid, and it leverages the power of technology to optimise the generation, distribution, and consumption of electricity. Enhancing power grids with smart technology like a digital twin can offer instant improvements without the resource-intensive and time-consuming nature of infrastructure additions or refurbishments.

Kognitwin Grid is just that: a digital twin that enhances grid operations through smart technology. It offers a single source of truth across systems for all users, providing insight into the current and future state of the grid to maximise the existing network and get decision support for where and when to make new investments.

In Kognitwin Grid, grid operators can inspect individual components in the power grid to find information like the expected load flow over the next 48 hours.

Data sources like grid model data, switch settings and historical load and production measurements are ingested to give users a virtual and interactive environment where they can visualize all components of the power grid in a map-style view. Sensor data is also added, helping users see real-time data in the context of daily operations.

A focus on flexibility

Over the last two years, Kongsberg Digital partnered with the Norwegian distribution system operators Elvia, Linja, and Tensio, technology provider Pixii, The Norwegian Smart Grid Center and SINTEF Energy to address the challenges of an increasingly congested power grid. The focus was on the use of flexibility in grid operations, and how a digital twin can help grid operators make the most of the existing grid and its potential capacity.

What is grid flexibility? The capability of a power grid to adapt to rapid variations in electricity demand, generation, and other operational factors.

The project hypothesis

Grid operators lack the ability to determine when, where, and how to utilise flexibility in the power system. Flexibility in network operations can help defer or prevent expensive investments or outages due to overload, and this is an area where technology like Kognitwin Grid can make a difference.

“Tensio has a goal of increasing our maximum delivered power by 25 % within 2026, and to do so we need to utilise our existing grid better. A digital twin that can gather all necessary information in one place, visualise and simulate flexible assets and give a precise forecast of the near future can help us do just that.” - Jon Arnesen, Grid Developer, Tensio.

The project outcome

The project resulted in a new Kognitwin Grid module that presents an always-on grid simulator, providing insight into the current grid load flow and predicted flow for the next 48 hours. Grid operators can now see problem areas in the grid and investigate how a reduced load on flexible assets can help resolve a bottleneck.

They can also identify flexible customers – ones who can adjust their electricity consumption patterns according to demand and supply – and simulate how this flexibility can be used to maintain grid stability.

Users can test reducing load on flexible assets to see if bottlenecks in the grid can be resolved.

A practical example

Let’s say a network operator identifies a potential overload on a component tomorrow between 4-6 pm. In Kognitwin Grid, they can simulate different scenarios and investigate where adjustments can be made to mitigate the overload.

This ability to ad-hoc simulate the use of flexibility proves the hypothesis that a digital twin for grid operations is essential to better utilisation of the existing grid.

This view shows that a transformer and cable in an area are expected to experience overload soon. The bar at the bottom of the screen shows predicted warnings and alarms for the next 48 hours.

After a scenario is simulated, grid operators can review the new load flow to see if flexibility will resolve the identified grid problem. This image shows that simulated flexibility should successfully reduce the load on a cable to an acceptable level.

A bonus outcome

New energy sources and assets like batteries can play a major role in the utilisation of power grids and increased grid stability. Kongsberg Digital teamed up with the new battery-as-a-service provider Peak Shaper delivered by Eidsiva, which delivers a tailor-made solution for grid companies.

APIs were used to ingest data from their battery installation in Lierne, while the battery (delivered by Pixii) was incorporated into Kognitwin Grid so that users could see battery-related data directly in the twin alongside other important information like load flow and grid capacity.

“With a focus on predictive analysis and real-time insights, Kongsberg Digital aims to employ this tool as a key element in the customer's decision-making process, ensuring that future operations are effective and aligned with the long-term goals of grid sustainability and reliability.” – Marianne Blikø, Product Manager Grid, Kongsberg Digital.

Solutions for the future

As complexity increases, having different types of data available in the same user interface where load flow and voltage calculations can be made is essential for operators to deliver the reliable, affordable, and cleaner energy that their customers expect and deserve.

As shown by the FlexOps project, simulation and data sharing provide the insights operators need to continue facing the energy challenge. By leveraging the strength of industry cooperation, joint projects like this will continue to make important contributions to shaping the future of work.

“Distributed energy storage can be considered as potential ‘tentacles’ in the distribution grid with capabilities for both real-time sensing and pushing on the ‘pain points’ in the grid. With Kognitwin Grid, we see a digital platform that can integrate and fully exploit all the features that an advanced energy storage system represents as a ‘multi-tool’ for the grid operators,” says Ole Jakob Sørdalen, Chief Innovation and Sustainability Officer with Pixii AS.

Just imagine the possibilities that lie ahead. Can Kognitwin Grid help simulate battery operations for the power grid based on given network conditions? Where can operators increase capacity during peak times? How can grid system actors use technology to work safer, smarter and greener?

We have some ideas – let’s talk! Get in touch with our experts or access Kognitwin Grid here.

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Shaping the future of electricity grids through flexibility

Kongsberg Digital

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