Distribution Automation Strategy Review
September 1, 2019

Distribution automation scheme applications in operation around the world improve reliability, voltage performance and network operational visibility.

Across all the major vendors of advanced distribution management systems (ADMS) there is a common focus on automation applications covering:

  • Situational awareness
  • Network automation
  • Business process automation
  • Distributed energy resource management
  • Asset condition management

PSC recently assisted a distribution utility client with an independent review of their automation strategy with a clear focus on improving supply reliability while meeting regulatory requirements for electricity safety and power quality. With network requirements changing rapidly, taking a broader view of automation is an opportunity for the client to prepare for changes in the future operation of distribution networks, as well as supporting further network operational improvements today.

Automation can assist with reducing the frequency of outages through improving awareness of conditions throughout the network, automating manual processes and providing better information on the condition of equipment. Outage durations can be improved by automation that reduces fault identification times, reduces service restoration times, and proactively manages network configuration to optimise power flows. An automation platform with a system-wide view of the network and real-time network modelling capability can coordinate voltage and VAr control with network switching automation to improve network power quality, minimise network losses and maximise the network hosting capacity for distributed energy resources such as distributed generation, battery energy storage systems and electric vehicle charging demand.

At the conclusion of the review, PSC’s key recommendations included:

  • Develop a comprehensive distribution network automation strategy that addresses the requirements for feeder automation and provides a foundation for more wide-reaching automation across; network automation, situational awareness, business process automation, DER management and asset condition management.
  • Increase the network visibility to improve situational awareness and prepare for future network requirements for more intensive distributed energy resources management.
  • Implement more advanced feeder automation through ADMS supported by distributed automation at a substation level.