Research- and innovation project UPGRID concludes

Powel has been a partner in the research project UPGRID that begun in January 2015. The project goal was to realise open, standardised and integrated improvements of both low- and high voltage grids. The project, which was awarded in excess of €12 million from the EU, covered smart grids in their entirety. UPGRID is now completed, with positive results that will contribute to the development of next generation ICT structure for smart grids and smart meters.

UPGRID is part of Horizon 2020, the EU’s largest research- and innovation programme of all times, with close to €80 billion in available funds. The programme stretches over seven years, from 2014 to 2020. It focuses on research that results in innovation as well as new business opportunities that will create growth in the EU region.

The overall goal for UPGRID was to develop and test innovative and cost-effective solutions for advanced operations and utilisation of the low- and medium voltage networks, focusing on quality of delivery and effective handling of outages. The project group was a pan-European consortium with 19 participants from seven countries.

Real challenges – real solutions

Horizon 2020 aims to look at challenges that need to be addressed urgently, with the end goal of finding real solutions and answers. One of the challenges is how to satisfy an ever-increasing need for electricity while simultaneously fighting climate changes. Projects are supposed to have both technological, economic and social effects.

The UPGRID project was coordinated by Iberdrola, Spain’s premier energy company. It involved four live test locations for smart grids in the distribution grid in Sweden, Spain, Portugal and Poland. Vattenfall was responsible for one of the most important work packages in the research project and invited Powel to participate. We contributed with installation and development of several solutions like our operational support solution Powel iAM DMS to the test site in Sweden.

“For Vattenfall it was important to perform a full-scale trial, testing the solution in a real environment. Their goal was twofold; part strategic and part practical. They wanted to map out the road ahead in order to find out what their future focus should be, and they wanted to have a have a working operational system at the end of the project,” explains Kjetil Kvamme, project manager in Powel.

Vattenfall chose to work with existing partners and received three complementary solutions from Powel, Schneider and General Electric.

Amongst other opportunities, the project gave Powel the opportunity to test and develop iAM DMS in an operative grid. During the project, we contributed both with expertise and software with advanced functionality for monitoring and managing electricity grids. Functionality included analysis connected to quality of delivery and outages, both in real-time and for planning purposes.

“Over the course of the project duration we have taken part in a number of interesting exercises. For instance, we have looked at the impact that large-scale development of solar power will have on the grid, a challenge that will become reality in the near future. Here we worked with Vattenfall to create methods using 3D models of houses and estimated the consequences of different amounts of solar panels in a low voltage grid. We were also able to investigate direct communication between our own DMS and end customers’ smart meters,” says Kvamme.

Network management for the future

For Powel, this project was an opportunity to highlight our expertise within advanced grid management on an international arena. We worked closely with the other participants and together we have contributed to finding actual benefits and realising solutions that support the energy needs of the future.  

“We are very happy with the project and are happy with the way it went. It has given us an opportunity to develop and test new functionality in this environment, within the framework of the project,” says Kvamme. “Additionally, we have been able to experiment with data transfer and integrations between various systems, which led us to an important conclusion that integrations are easier in theory than in practice. We have been able to test existing and new functionality, and some of the new functionality will become permanent features in our software, benefitting other customers.”

At the start of the project, it was expected that the most significant technological impact to come out of UPGRID would be improvement in the observability of power systems, better system support for low- and medium voltage grids, and progress within smart meters and systems for the home.

Nicholas Etherden, R&D Vattenfall, presented the project during the Elnätsdagarna conference in Sweden in November 2017. One of the results he focused on was the increased opportunities for monitoring the grid, both historically and in the future.

The UPGRID project will be presented at Iberdrola’s head office in Spain on 21 February.

For more information on the project, go to the UPGRID website