Smart Grids and Telemanagement

Circutor | 10 de March de 2022

The evolution of technology and new regulations have driven distribution networks toward Smart Grids, endowing them with high levels of technology and modernization that were unthinkable a few years ago. This situation results from the need to have a more efficient infrastructure, reduce CO2 emissions, incorporate renewables into the low-voltage distribution network and be able to offer better power quality.

The current technological and regulatory context is ideal to promote the evolution and transformation of distribution networks. This is how these processes are being carried out.

CIRWATT Telemedida Telegestión

An approach to the Smart Grid concept

One of the key points of a Smart Grid is the measuring device (meter), which the utility uses to log the energy consumed by its customers. These devices are the so-called Smart Meters, which not only measure energy, but log it, price it, limit consumption and feature communications that allow utility companies to know at all times the status of the device and the power and energy required by each of their users. The most feasible and optimized system to allow for this permanent communication is PLC.


PRIME residential meters

Residential meters represent the largest volume of equipment to be controlled by energy distributors. The PRIME system offers us the most effective solution for remote management of this type of meters.

PRIME industrial meters

The PRIME telemanagement system offered by CIRCUTOR not only provides a robust solution for the management of residential meters, but also allows direct and indirect metering industrial meters to be integrated into supplies greater than 15 kW in Low Voltage.

One of the most widely used and implemented protocols in the world is the one from the PRIME Alliance, with over 20 million meters installed worldwide. CIRCUTOR has meters and concentrators that are fully certified and accredited by the PRIME Alliance. The CIRCUTOR concentrator for these projects is COMPACT DC.

PRIME alliance

The COMPACT DC family of concentrators offers different features, such as inputs/outputs to control and monitor external sensors, a built-in modem with cybersecurity features (IPSec tunnels, DNVPN, Firewall, TACACS+), a LV monitor (indirect meter), a backup battery and RS232/485 serial ports.

Mission of a PLC concentrator

The main mission of a PLC concentrator is to read, through the electrical network, the energy meters and export this data to one or several computer systems in charge of managing concentrators and, failing that, meters.

Concentradores PRIME Compact-DC

One of the drawbacks of implementing a PLC remote management system using the existing distribution network is that said network is used as a communications network, and in some countries these infrastructures are very diverse. This diversity means that they are from different time periods, when the possibility of using them for something other than supplying energy in the future was not even considered. As a result, these networks are sometimes not optimized for PLC communications.

The importance of the PRIME protocols

Faced with these infrastructures that are ill-suited for PLC communications, the mature and robust protocols, such as PRIME, together with protected devices and highly developed communications strategies (such as the COMPACT DC concentrator), showcase their reliability and robustness. They offer high KPIs and results that allow the utility to reduce its operating costs (OPEX) while modernizing its infrastructure.

In addition to the devices that are essential for a telemanagement system such as PRIME (concentrators and meters), there are accessories that can help improve PLC communications. One example is PLC repeaters (Cirwatt Repeater) or PLC filters, which attenuate the noise that is in the same frequency band as PLC/PRIME communications.

Circutor units have PLC PRIME technology, guaranteeing coexistence with multiple manufacturers and existing applications, through an open and public protocol.

telegestión PLC PRIME

The modular and flexible COMPACT DC system lets the concentrator adapt to the different projects in which CIRCUTOR is involved, since its FW can be adapted to the specific functionalities of each electrical network. Moreover, thanks to the modular system, it allows adding HW features, such as inputs/outputs, a built-in modem and a backup battery for the Last Gasp functionality, which lets the concentrator comply with the specific requirements of each DSO.

This ability to adapt allows COMPACT DC concentrators to be used in projects around the world, including the EU, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East.

In conclusion, telemanagement with smart meters is one of the important aspects of a Smart Grid, but it is not the only one. There are other aspects that must be considered when initiating a project to transform a distribution network. For example, LV network monitoring, medium-voltage automation and communications.

There are many aspects that should be considered involving changes in the distribution network. Foremost among them are the protocols, concentrators and meters used.

For more information on low-voltage monitoring, see this article:

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