Part 1: Demands and Challenges of Modern Grids | Substation Virtualization to Modernize the Grid (ft. Intel, VMware & ABB) | InnoTalks

Digital solutions, such as substation virtualization, help to improve safety, security, reliability and manageability for real-time protection and control in energy applications. Virtualization of substation functions that run on shared, open architecture adds operational flexibility and helps overcome limitations of previous data silos.
Industry: Energy & Environment
Audience Type: General
Created Date: 2023/07/11
Speaker
Matt Dentino
Matt Dentino
InnoTalks Host,
Prithpal Khajuria
Prithpal Khajuria
Director, Power Sector & Sustainability, Intel
Dinesh Baradi
Dinesh Baradi
Product Specialist, ABB
Anthony Sivesind
Anthony Sivesind
Edge Solution Architect, VMWare
Ken Dennen
Ken Dennen
Product Sales Manager, Advantech
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Hello, and welcome to advantech's Innotalk. I'm your host, Matt Dentino. Today's topic is how to improve safety, security, reliability, and manageability for real time protection and control applications in the energy space. Specifically on today's in a talk, we'll be talking about substation virtualization in with respect to grid modernization. That's a weighty subject, but I think you're really gonna enjoy the way my guests unpack all of that for you today. Let me let me set up today's discussion with a little bit of background. The reliable delivery of electricity has become, you know, considered more or less a fundamental right for people and it's dependent upon a well functioning grid infrastructure. So we're gonna talk about modernizing that structure. To improve its reliability, safety, and security with with my guests. I'll be joined today by Advantech Partners that are all founding members of the virtual protection, automation, and control alliance known as V PAC. With me, we have Pris Paul Kujaria, director of power sector and sustainability from Intel. We have Anthony Syberson, Edge Solutions architect from VMware. We also have Danesh Barati, product specialist from ABB, and one of my advantech colleagues, product sales manager, Ken Denon. Together, they're gonna help me to unpack for you why leveraging virtualization technologies to deliver that grid modernization is so valuable. We're to first talk about the changing face and the challenges of of the electric grid today and its rapid evolution And then we're gonna get into the vision for how this group is gonna work together and has been working together to solve those challenges. We're gonna talk about the role of VPAC alliance and the efforts its efforts and the results of of an early partnership, a a virtual protection relay solution or a VPR. That was designed to meet that critical need of utilities at the substation at the edge of the grid. So with that as the background, Let me start with you, Danesh. Since we're we're in this world of rising energy demands, with with the call for sustainable development. What are the challenges for the modern grid and why do we need it virtualized? Firstly, thank you so much, Matt. As you noted, the grid is rapidly evolving from a Unity directional generator to consumer power distribution network. Into a much more complex and sophisticated hub for bidirectional power exchange between traditional generation, coupled with renewables, with micro grids, and distributed energy resources. By necessity governmental targets, in different countries, mandate, achieving carbon neutrality in a very ambitious way. In some cases, we have observed that these targets could be as soon as twenty thirty five, which is twelve years from now. Now that means decarbonization and energy transition have to happen at a very exponential pace in those specific countries. This creates a very, very challenging combination. How does one take into consideration design, operational, and economic changes while still maintaining the reliability, security, and dependability of electric distribution networks. This is really going to require greater demand for intelligent protection, automation, and data collection systems in electric power infrastructure. While maintaining the critical functionalities, I mentioned about safety and high availability. To reduce the amount of space and administration needed, virtualization allows one server to become many virtual machines, and replace a traditional one computer, one application model. As users can merge more functions onto fewer physical devices, this greatly cuts cost. Thereby meeting the economic needs, and at the same time, it also helps us achieve greater efficiency. This is a signal reason why virtualization is mandated or recommended at least in the electric power industry. Dennis, you mentioned in there that safety and high availability in grid systems. And as I understand it, protection's one of the toughest functions to implement in a substation. Can you share more about the protection system? And and how it can be improved through virtualization? Yes. Absolutely. You're right, Matt. Protection Systems react to unplanned grid events. These include any type of disturbances. We can call disturbances as anything relating to a short circuit or a ground fault or an earth fault in the power system. Think of trees falling on power lines or a lightning striking and disabling a power transformer. Protection systems have to be active all time for the requirement of safety and dependability. And it must react very quickly to these kind of events so that the section of the electrical grid that is faulted is isolated, and the disturbance doesn't cascade into a wider network. Therefore, if a disturbance does cascade, then it will disable the other sections of the grid causing a wider damage to a different kinds of equipment, including power lines, including power transformers, and including substations themselves. Real time high availability systems like protection require extremely careful engineering to create a robust power system protection and control solution that provides flexibility and enhanced resiliency is necessary. To face increasingly complex grids. ABB took on this challenge first by introducing the virtualized protection and control solution with the smart substation control and protection SSC six hundred software. In order to realize the full benefits of virtualization, it must address this critical function. To fully embrace an open platform nature of virtualization, we worked with many partners, including those represented here today. Alright. Thank you. Thank you, Dennis. That's fascinating information. I we we could probably spend the whole discussion just going back and forth on that part alone, but I wanna pick up on the idea of virtualization here. VMware is already a market leader in in IT virtualization. So Anthony, I'm gonna come to you. Let let me let me ask you this question. Since since you come from a utility background, what were some of the unique challenges VMware faced in in adapting to OT applications, particularly in in the substation. Yeah. That's it. Thanks, Matt. United, the as Dinesh mentioned, the real time nature of many OT problems like isn't an issue in IT virtualization, but high availability certainly is. VMware developed its its Edge compute stack solutions, leveraging real time software definition layers to handle very stringent latency and dependability requirements. The platform itself also incorporates precise system wide timing synchronization using the Iee fifteen eighty eight standard, which is precision time protocol. Of course, cybersecurity is just as if not more critical than it is in the IT space. And VMware virtualization solutions offer enhancements on multiple levels. They can provide the means to build a segmented zero trust network and offers methods to detect and respond to vulnerabilities and ease regulatory reporting requirements. So with with all that in place, we're now committed to contribute our virtualization expertise to help educate the industry and and realize solutions. So virtualization is it's quite unfamiliar technology to the OT side. As many companies, we see really need education, and it's it's critical to building that that better grid. And VMware, of course, offers many training resources in the form of our hands on labs for most of our products to our learning paths leading all the way to certification. So from my perspective as as a former utility engineer, I really see the the potential benefits of virtualization in both operational efficiency and reliability through automation and increased edge intelligence through data utilization. Excellent. Excellent. Thanks, Anthony. You you unpacked a lot. With that answer, I I already feel a little bit more educated than when we started today, so appreciate that. Now, let me direct this next question to IT market leader Intel, a representative there today, Prith Powell, Why is substation virtualization important to Intel and and what steps has the company taken to enable that in the market? Thank you, Matt. Matt, let me take you a little bit background story. In two thousand sixteen, seventeen, I started at Intel. And started interviewing the utilities globally. And one of the utilities challenges came up very quickly. What Euclit is mentioned to us that number one, demand for electricity is going to quadruple incoming decade. As we electrify our transportation sector. Along with that, the distributed energy resources are going to penetrate day by day more. So our concept of centrally generating electricity and distributing to home and businesses is going to change. So what it lead, it will lead to a two way grid, and it's gonna be lot more complex as Denesh mentioned earlier. So, interest is okay, what are the next level of challenges you are facing? Utilities says that we cannot keep doing the things we were doing before, because we have these fixed feature function devices, all over our networks, it is hard to upgrade firmware on them, security, manageability, So it is a it's a big operational nightmare for them. So that's that's where kind of a whole discussion started. And then we have to introduce the digitalization with virtualization to make a great data driven system. So Euclities really like that concept. Seeing that digitalization of IU to put aside is a huge market opportunity for semiconductor growth for Intel and other people other companies in the semiconductor industry, we heavily invested for partnership with the utilities with the ecosystem. So that's that's the kind of how this journey journey started. As you said earlier, just everybody relies on the electrical grid. Enhancing its protective will make it more accessible and affordable to everyone, not to mention reducing its impact on the environment because we need to have more and more distributed energy resources generating electricity and we can seamlessly connect them with a grid and form this holistic system. So we we are strong believers in virtualization as we have seen its benefits in agility, efficiency, and TCO across many IT spaces. In Anthony and we have been working together before, And one of the work which we did was initially that by embracing the digitalization with virtualization, utilities can reduce the number of devices by fifty percent. In initial analysis show that the operational cost can be reduced by seventy six percent. So that's a huge for the utilities, and it's a win win for everybody. Excellent. Excellent. And enlightening information. Thank you for that, Britpaw. Welcome. Ken, let me come to you. This final question of our first section here is is is for you and advantech. In light of all that that we've just heard, And knowing that advantech is a leader in industrial computing and IoT, does substation virtualization present unique challenges to Advantec. Thanks, Matt. Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. It does leverage some of the common traits that we see in industrial computing, things like environmental robustness and ruggedness, typically much longer life cycles than you'd see in an enterprise use case and high availability. These systems are mission critical and need to be at very, very high uptimes. But the substation does have some specific requirements that the others have sort of touched on that have to do with specific certifications, driven by regulations, and also workforce requirements that their equipment needs to be designed to be deployed and maintained by the workforce of a utility. Laring and virtualization on top of that, really increases the need for the processing power within a box and makes that the scalability requirement of that increase, but you need to maintain a very reliable system including both the processing and the networking. One of the things we see in V PAC, particularly protection applications, is we're disaggregating solutions that used to be intelligence distributed across the substation, we're disaggregating that into a centralized, intelligent, server with algorithms running that's talking over a network to the sensors and relays that are monitoring and controlling the substation to protect the grid from the unplanned event Dinesh talked about. When you do that, it increases need for ultra reliable networks that won't lose any data even during hardware failures. So luckily, the utility industry has defined protocols and technologies such as I triple I e c sixty one eight fifty, networking, that can provide this level of robustness to the overall system.