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MONICA, real-time control of the distribution grid

The aim of the Monica project is that the medium and low voltage electrical distribution network improve in quality and safety by means of advanced and real-time monitoring of the supply.

Perhaps at some point in your life, you've found yourself on a dark street and asked yourself, why aren’t these lights turned on? Incidents with the electrical distribution grid are uncommon, but they can occur. When they do happen, grid operators deploy a detection and resolution mechanism to return everything to its correct operating state.

However, can you imagine an intelligent system that is capable of precisely determining the real situation of the distribution grid at all times in such a way that it is able to prevent and solve problems? That is the objective of the MONICA Project (Monitoring and Advanced Control of HV and LV distribution grids): to develop a technology that allows monitoring and instant diagnostics of the medium- and low-voltage lines, with a similar focus as the one that has traditionally existed in the transport (or high voltage) grids.

How will it be possible? An advanced platform of data acquisition, processing and management, called the Grid Status Estimator, receives the data collected by the 750 sensors deployed in 56 MV/LV Transformation Centres in the area of Smart City Málaga in real time, in addition to the data obtained thanks to the new smart meters with around 15,000 users. Moreover, it has the topology information of the grid at all times: the technical characteristics of each one of the stretches of medium and low voltage, the status of the transformers and the other physical elements of the distribution grid and sectioners, switches, etc.

The 10 million data points managed each day provide the status estimator with the necessary information to know the actual situation of the grid, even in areas where there are no sensors, and allow us to diagnose the different existing problems in order to improve the maintenance and operation of the system. The information collected allows the operators to avoid breakdowns, connect new supplies at optimum points of the grid and plan investments in places where they are needed the most.

Until recently, this system was not considered feasible, either technically or economically. But it is possible now thanks to the use of smart grids and recent technological developments, such as smart meters, advanced sensors and remote controls, which have offered great capabilities to automate the electrical distribution grid.

These new technologies provide guarantees when approaching the objective of the MONICA project: for both the low voltage lines and the medium voltage ones, and therefore, the Transformation Centres that they come from and all types of users, regardless of their nature, to be equipped with the same supervision and control tools as the high voltage grid. This will make it possible to offer a better quality of service, reducing the number of incidents thanks to preventative maintenance and helping to find and resolve them, in addition to optimising the investments and greater energy efficiency at all levels.

"MONICA will be a fundamental tool for managing the power system, which is gaining new protagonists."

Energy storage, electric vehicles and their recharging points, distributed generation and new systems of electrical self-consumption are making traditional consumption models change and therefore, their management should also be different. The challenge is for the distribution grid to adapt to the active elements, and to be capable of operating in a decentralised and bidirectional manner, interacting with them. The real-time knowledge of the distribution grid offered by MONICA will make it possible to optimally integrate these new elements—something that would be practically impossible with traditional energy models. 

 

An efficient and sustainable energy model

By implementing these information and communication technologies into the current electrical grid, we have obtained an intelligent grid that allows us to offer users a more efficient and sustainable model.

The MONICA Project was carried out in the Living Lab of Smart City Málaga, the centre of real experimentation for developing Grupo Enel’s electrical distribution technologies.

At Endesa, we’ve led the consortium that has carried out the project, which includes the participation of Ayesa Advanced Technologies, Ingelectus Innovative Electrical Solutions, Ormazábal Media Tensión and ETSII’s Electrical Engineering Department at the University of Seville through the AICIA Foundation. The project has a total budget greater than 3 million euros, of which around 1.3 million are financed by the Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI), supported by the Ministry of Economy and Business, as part of the INNTERCONECTA programme, and co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (FEDER).

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