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Discussion

Discuss about the Implications of IT for Saudi Electricity Company.
 

The implication of IT in the substation maintenance at SEC or Saudi Electricity Company is profound. Compared to the other industrial sectors, the power delivery system was way behind in terms of technology in the late 2000s. Innovative IT solutions such as HMIs or human machine interfaces, advanced sensing devices, servomotors and PLCs or Programmable Logic Controllers were already implemented in the other industrial sectors in Saudi Arabia. At that time, the Saudi Electricity Company was using age old electromechanical devices and oscillographs which needed to be maintained periodically. Solid state devices were also used which were installed in the last decade.

In the following assignment, the implication of IT technology on the substation maintenance section at SEC or Saudi Electricity Company has been discussed and evaluated. Several IT Technology implementation has been discussed (currently used and future use) and their consecutive implication on the maintenance staff has been evaluated. Other than several IT Systems, the report also discusses about the SCADA system that has been implemented in the Saudi Arabian Company. The implication of this new IT technology on the mentioned sector has been assessed and evaluated in the following sections of the report.  

With the introduction of IT technologies such as SCADA or Supervisory, Control, and Data Acquisition systems and microprocessor relays (first generation), the technological innovation in the substation maintenance of SEC evolved geometrically. With the dawn of the information age, SEC has implemented protective relays as IEDs or Intelligent Electronic Devices. The result of this installation was that the system became much more able to perform all types of protective functionalities for isolating faults from the healthy system parts (Murphy, Twaha and Murphy 2014). Another implication of this implementation is that it will be able to communicate, perform and collect logic data with other devices such as processors of modern SCADA systems to allow dispatchers to control and monitor the substations remotely. Analog signals such as voltage, power and current are some of the example of data that are collected with the help of protective relays. 

Better IT system for the substation maintenance in SEC will result in better communication to address maintenance issues in the power station. The new system consists of SA applications, IED integration and IED implementation.  The most important level is the operational level as it directly sends data (amps and volts) to the SCADA system. The non-operational level helps to collect data to the data warehouse such as event logs ("An Introduction to SCADA for Electrical Engineers - Beginners", 2018). The final implication of the new system is the remote access that opens up the network connection in both ways. 

Better information flow of Substations

Several new IT methods have been implemented in SEC that had a wide variety of implications in  the Substation maintenance section at Saudi Electricity company (SEC) for generating, distributing and transferring electric power to differently categorized consumers.

The first is PMU or Phasor Measurement Unit. In SEC, for measuring the currents and voltages at certain points and synchronizing with the help of GPS systems, synchrophasors or PMUs are used. PMUs are often incorporated with another Protective relay or IED to act as a dedicated device. The implication of this instalment is that the synchophrasor data could be allowed to flow up to the dynamic limit off the line rather than the worst case scenario limit (during extra load r weather conditions) as the synchophrasors are located in various substations with their own GPS systems. The dynamic rating also allows the operator with the actual ability of the transmission line to transmit power within the design limits. This new technology will allow Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) to improve their electrical energy flow, its protection and congestion within the grid.

Next comes battery monitoring. The monitoring system is used by the DC battery system that resides with the relay in the same building. For a control and protection system, the DC system of the Substation of Saudi Electricity Company is very important. For SEC, the battery checking system makes sure that the battery bank and charger maintains a right voltage.  The electrolyte level in every battery cell can be monitored by the monitoring system as well as letting the dispatchers know that the levels need to be changed by sending an alarm to the Supervisory, Control, and Data Acquisition or SCADA System (Lee & Heng 2016). Another implication of using this IT technology in SEC will be that the crews need to be rotated back by the utility companies to check the battery cells on a monthly basis.

Next, comes the monitoring of the power circuit breaker. SEC has recently installed a monitoring systems for the power circuit breakers that are insulated from SF6 or sulphur hexafluoride. For the substation maintenance, the immediate implication of this technology will be better monitoring ability to track tank temperature and gas pressure of SF6.  This will allow the maintenance team to repair and detect leaks before they can turn into dangerous problems. The SF6 is required in SEC to insulate the breaker’s energized parts. This IT system allow the substation maintenance to inspect circuit interrupters to become preventative (condition based) instead of routine (time based). The CBS or Circuit breaker sentinel is one such monitoring system that is used by SEC. It allows to detect unnecessary maintenance of interrupters.  Without this interrupter wear, the standard procedure is to check the interrupter maintenance in every ten years ("Local smart grid with global implications | Energy Central", 2018). The interrupter needs to be disassembled, the tank needs to be opened and the breaker needs to be removed from service in the standard maintenance. Most of the times, the interrupter is found to be in prime condition but he dismemberment and reassembly procedure introduces new metallic particles in the system leading to its breakdown after a while. Using the monitoring system of the circuit breaker will definitely lead to the avoidance of this problem in the long run. 

Various IT systems and its implications

Next comes the monitoring of the power transformer. One of the most important parts of the infrastructure of SEC is the power transformers. They are important for delivering the power supply to the customers from the generators. Most of them take long time to replace, has a very long lead time and are very expensive. The transformers that are present in SEC cost millions of dollars and takes several weeks to install. With the new installed monitoring system for the power transformers to check the characteristics of its operation ("Privacy Challenges and Implications of an Electric "Smart Grid" System ...", 2018). The substation maintenance can now monitor the load temperatures, dynamic loadings, cooling controls, dissolved gas, moisture in oils, hot spots, load currents and oil temperatures. Another implication will be that this data can be studied by the maintenance team to understand trends for saving maintenance costs, overload performances, better reliability and decreased failures.  

The new monitoring system in SEC will serve as a hub for management data that can be used by concerned authorities for business operations of SEC. The increased expandability, security, response time, maintenance and availability will improve the system performance of SEC. The SCADA system will improve the redundancy and reliability of the software as well as the hardware. In case of any natural calamities, the system operations will be taken up by the master station ("What is SCADA? Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition",2018).

When the operating constraints and load are satisfied, the system stays in the normal state. As the main system performances are met, the system does not respond but when the conditions are not satisfied, the system automatically goes into emergency mode. In this state, the basic functions are retained but the system performance is allowed to degrade with lower response time ("Implications of Smart Grid Innovation for Organizational Models in Electricity ...", 2018).

Another implication of the new SCADA system in SEC is that the new system restricts access to certain group of staffs. For example, the substation maintenance staff gets to see only the display functions whereas the operators can all the control functions.

During system expansion, the substation maintenance team can conduct preventive measures, updates and hardware as well as software repair without any complications. 

With the integration of CIM or Common Information Model in SEC, it will allow software applications to check status information and exchange configuration with the electric network of SEC.  For specific applications. CIM supports some profiles. The subsets of classes are known as profiles. Topology profile and Schematic Layout Profile are some of the profiles that are supported by the new information system of SEC. Presently, EMS applications are used by CIM to exchange information about the states of current transmission of power by the substation maintenance at SEC ("Security Implications of the Electric Smart Grid | 2014-09-04 | Security Magazine", 2018.). In the future, the implication of utilizing CIM will be to exchange vital informations from anything related to the energy systems and their management systems such as markets and workforces. 

Better performance and system activities

Most of the energy companies of Saudi Arabia including SEC has adopted the latest IEC 61850 equipment.  At first, there was a concern about the interchangeability of devices among several manufacturers with this technology. After extensive research with six manufacturers and nine product platforms, it was concluded that the IEC 61850-based substation can in fact support various manufacturers in a single transmission grid ("The Future of the Electric Grid", 2018). The implication of integrating this technology is that interoperability will no longer be a problem for the substation maintenance.

The communication layer of Saudi Electricity Company serves as the heart of the monitoring system. The implementation of the SCADA system in SEC will allow the data to be sent to the backup servers and allow the operational data to be collected from the field devices. It will allow the substation maintenance team to send commands to the control units from the control centre. The implication of the technology will be used for properly identifying traffic flows of communication, understand the system topology, address timing issues and failover, performance requirement, address device schemes understand the network traffic characteristics and the operational requirements ("electricity - How does load affect frequency on the power grid? 2018).

Another important implication of the new IT system will be the substation automation architecture and integration that will allow interoperability with the legacy equipment of SEC and various components of vendors. As many vendor are not SCADA oriented, SEC can utilize the open communication protocols such as DNP 3.0 for better integrating with equipment manufacturers ("Status Enterprise SCADA System Software - B-Scada, Inc.", 2018). 

Conclusion

To conclude the report, it can be stated that with all the accumulation of data from all these mentioned IT technologies, the implications of this data analysis will lead to better and dependable power delivery services from the SEC of Saudi Arabia. It will also allow the substation maintenance team to save cost of the SEC and improve its reliability. The implication of IT in the substation maintenance of SEC has been discussed adequately in the report. The better flow of information in the substations has been discussed and analysed. A number of IT systems has been discussed and their implications on the substation maintenance has been evaluated. Moreover, the positive implications of IT on the system activities, information layer and the communication system has been widely discussed.

The transformation of SEC to condition based maintenance from time based maintenance will affect it positively in the long run. With the implementation of these systems, the implications will be significant as the number of outages will reduce and the failure of equipment will gradually become less. The substation maintenance team will also become efficient in addressing these issues with time. Other implications of adopting a new monitoring system has been discussed as well as implications of building better substations and better communication systems.

References 

An Introduction to SCADA for Electrical Engineers - Beginners. Retrieved 2018, from https://electrical-engineering-portal.com/an-introduction-to-scada-for-electrical-engineers-beginners

Electricity - How does load affect frequency on the power grid? - Physics Stack .... Retrieved 2018, from https://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/2641/how-does-load-affect-frequency-on-the-power-grid

Implications of Smart Grid Innovation for Organizational Models in Electricity .... Retrieved 2018, from https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2571251

Lee, S., & Heng, Y. (2016). Optimal VF-PDPC of grid connected inverter under unbalanced and distorted grid voltages. Electric Power Systems Research, 140, 1-8. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.epsr.2016.07.006

Local smart grid with global implications | Energy Central. Retrieved 2018, from https://www.energycentral.com/c/iu/local-smart-grid-global-implications

Murphy, P.M., Twaha, S. and Murphy, I.S., 2014. Analysis of the cost of reliable electricity: A new method for analyzing grid connected solar, diesel and hybrid distributed electricity systems considering an unreliable electric grid, with examples in Uganda. Energy, 66, pp.523-534.

Privacy Challenges and Implications of an Electric "Smart Grid" System .... Retrieved 2018, from https://www.californiaprogressreport.com/site/node/7177

Saudi Electricity Company. (2018). Se.com.sa. Retrieved 13 April 2018, from https://www.se.com.sa/en-us/Pages/home.aspx

Security Implications of the Electric Smart Grid | 2014-09-04 | Security Magazine. Retrieved 2018

Status Enterprise SCADA System Software - B-Scada, Inc.. Retrieved 2018, from https://scada.com/software/enterprise-scada

The Future of the Electric Grid. (2018). MIT Energy Initiative. Retrieved 13 April 2018, from https://energy.mit.edu/research/future-electric-grid/

What is SCADA? Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition. Retrieved 2018, from https://inductiveautomation.com/what-is-scada 

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