Project MONICA will enable Endesa to obtain real-time data on low and medium-voltage power lines

Published on Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Endesa has launched Project MONICA (Advanced Monitoring and Control), with the aim of developing a technology for monitoring and performing real-time diagnoses of low and medium-voltage distribution grids, with a similar approach to that traditionally used for (high-voltage) transmission networks.

Other organisations also taking part in the consortium headed by Endesa are Ayesa Advanced Technologies, Ingelectus Innovative Electrical Solutions, Ormazábal Media Tensión and the Electrical Engineering Department of the Higher Technical School of Industrial Engineering of the University of Seville via the AICIA Foundation. The total budget exceeds 3 million euros, of which approximately 1.3 million have been financed by the Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI), endorsed by the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness, as part of the INNTERCONECTA programme and co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Project MONICA will develop a system capable of precisely establishing the status of the distribution grid in real time and at any given moment (Status Estimator), which will provide real and immediate information about the impact on the quality and safety of supply. It will develop and deploy an entire network of sensors across the low and medium-voltage grids to record measurements for all electrical variables. The new Status Estimator will receive in real time data from the deployed sensors and existing smart meters (7 million installed already), diagnosing any grid problems in order to prevent or resolve them, as applicable.

MONICA will be a key tool for managing an electrical system with an ever-growing number of components, such as energy storage elements; electric vehicles and their charging points; distributed generation; together with new self-consumers or prosumers. These are causing traditional consumption models to also change, requiring a shift in how they are managed. In other words, distribution grids will have to make room for these active elements and also operate them in a decentralised and two-way manner, interacting with them.

Only a few years ago it would not have been considered feasible in technical or economic terms, to develop and implement a system with these characteristics, but the deployment of smart grids and the latest developments in their associated technologies, particularly smart meters and advanced sensors and remote controls, have provided considerable grid automation capacities and new sources of information that have enabled the aim of equipping (low and medium-voltage) distribution grids with the same monitoring and control tools as those of (high-voltage) transmission grids to be addressed with guarantees.

Sustainable energy model

Integrating ICTs, information and communication technologies, with the current electricity grid enables a smart grid to be built that is capable of offering users a more efficient and sustainable energy model.

MONICA has been developed in the area of Smart City Málaga, the Enel Group’s living lab for the development of electricity distribution technologies. This totally real-time setting has over 15,000 remotely managed customers, 40 km of medium-voltage lines fitted with PLC technology, 70 LV/MV transformer centres – 22 of which are fully automated, renewable energy generation and distributed storage plants – including two micro-grids that combine generation, consumption and storage – and efficient public lighting.  

Furthermore, this area also has electric vehicle charging infrastructures developed as part of the ZEM2ALL project – the largest electric vehicle demonstration project in Spain, including six V2G two-way charging prototypes – VICTORIA, a static and dynamic fast charging electric bus demonstrator with self-guided control, and Green eMotion where a second life electric vehicle battery is used to automatically manage the demand of a fast charger and reduce the impact thereof on the quality of the distribution grid. 

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