Utilities must adapt smart grids to thrive in a decarbonised, digitised and decentralised electric world.

Schneider Electric encourages utilities to change the way they think about energy and how innovations, such as EcoStruxure Grid (our ecosystem of smart grids and digital offers) can provide a solution.

Until recently, electric utilities were heavily dependent on customers for notifications of an outage. Now, using smart grid solutions and self-healing capabilities, utilities can remotely monitor power equipment to:

* Quickly identify faults;

* Shorten the frequency and duration of outages; and

* Recover faster.

It is a critical advancement, since even short disruptions can inconvenience customers and cause financial and productivity losses.

One of the primary characteristics of a smart grid is its ability to self-heal. Self-healing capabilities minimise blackouts because they allow for continuous self-assessments that inspect, analyse, react to and automatically respond to problems.

This is possible through the widespread deployment of sensors and other intelligent devices and automated controls that check and evaluate the status and condition of the network to identify abnormalities and problems.

Using this information, the grid can agilely and accurately isolate network failure and react to protect the power infrastructure.

This intelligent automation allows more effective monitoring and decision making without human intervention.

The overall result is a more reliable grid that maximises uptime and increases the efficiency and security of your systems.

Technology has also changed the way utilities can respond to an outage — there is less fumbling to determine the where, when and why of the problem.

Fault location, isolation, and service restoration (FLISR) technology lets utilities:

* Let power back on faster by detecting the fault location quickly using realtime information collected from field devices;

* Reconfigure the flow of electricity to resupply power to the de-energised parts of the distribution network;

* Reduce the number of customers affected by the outage.

The information properly routes emergency repair crews to the precise location so they can begin fixes quickly. FLISR technology has reduced the customer minutes of interruption (CMI) by up to 51% for an outage event and reduced the number of customers interrupted (CI) by up to 45%, according to a US report.

The self-healing grid technology helps automate power restoration, reducing outage duration to a minimum. Unlike a conventional solution using a centralised control approach, the self-healing grid (SHG) is fully decentralised.

In the event of a power fault, substations communicate with each other to execute the best possible instruction for rapid fault isolation and restoration of power supply. The average restoration time with SHG is reduced to under one minute, while the conventional approach can take hours.

The electrical grid will always be at risk of outage, caused by weather, equipment failure, wildlife, human error and even sabotage, but with technological advancements, you can troubleshoot problems before they occur and get up and running faster after an outage.

EcoStruxure is Schneider Electric’s IoT-enabled, open and interoperable architecture.