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Last updated: Thursday, December 13, 2018


EVN SPC: Science and Technology as Leverage for Rapid and Sustainable Development

Posted: Wednesday, September 13, 2017

In business reality, if power grid management and operation is applied with scientific advancements, other operations will be deployed quickly and efficiently. With its decisive governance, Southern Power Corporation (EVN SPC) has proved that scientific and technological application actually leverages business performance improvement, and creates momentum for rapid and sustainable development in the current context of stiff competition and hardships of the electricity industry.

Overcoming operational technique limitations
EVN SPC manages and operates power grids in many coastal provinces and cities where there are high salinity levels, frequent electrical discharge and variant voltages and transmission incidents which cause an unsafe electrical system. In order to surmount these limitations, EVN SPC has actively studied and invested in applying know-how to grid management and operation. In the case of contamination and salinity of porcelain insulators, the company previously had to cut off power lines and replace costly and time-consuming composite beams, which negatively interrupted operations of enterprises and people's lives. Therefore, EVN SPC now uses high pressure water-insulating technology to clean the equipment and insulate 110 kV substations and 22kV lines easily without having to switch off electricity, thus reducing manpower, time, cost and power failures. From these practical effects, in 2016, EVN SPC been equipped with 68 sets of hotline sanitation equipment, massively deployed this technology to 21 subordinated units and simultaneously organised training courses on safe system operation.

As for the medium-voltage grid, to deal with frequent voltage changes caused by load demand surges, EVN SPC applied VAR dynamic compensation technology. Previously, to deal with this issue, EVN SPC implemented two main modes: Fixed compensation and time-varying dynamic compensation with voltage priority. However, fixed compensation is only effective at rush hour while it often causes redundancy at off-peak hours, reduces cable lifespan and insulation, and increases power loss. Meanwhile, the time-varying dynamic compensation is not effective in industrial zones due to wide load and consumption changes. Since VAR compensation method is used, voltage drop and compensation redundancy ease significantly, thus better supplying power quality.

Reducing Incident-detecting time
In order to shorten the time of detecting and solving incidents, EVN SPC has deployed a smart grid system operated on multiple nodes, which include reclosers, capacitors, and electromagnets.

Powered by fiber-optic local transmission network, this system will collect data and parameters of continuous grid operation. In particular, the system can report incidents and accurately determine affected areas. All information collected is transmitted to the system operating room located at the EVN SPC Headquarters. As a result, supervisors can detect incidents in two minutes, switch off power supply equipment from dozens of kilometres away, zone affected areas and restrict incident spreading. This is an advantage over the conventional grid system. In addition, EVN SPC has applied the geographic information system (GIS) to support power units to manage geographic information of the low voltage grid and applied medium voltage line positioning equipment to timely detect and solve line faults. Currently, most of EVN SPC subordinates have developed and applied these technologies effectively.

Especially, since April 2017, EVN SPC has deployed a visual inspection module at all member units to improve the quality and progress of construction works. This is also a support tool for managers and supervisors to run their day-to-day business.

Development leverage
2016 was the first year EVN SPC carrying out the five-year development plan from 2016 to 2020 with the scenario of unfavourable climate and hydrological conditions, prolonged droughts and widespread large-scale saline intrusion which give rise to an increase in additional load and greatly affect power supply. However, the assertiveness of EVN SPC management and the robust investment in science and technology in all activities have created momentum for EVN SPC to complete its business and power supply plans, thus contributing significantly to socioeconomic development of southern provinces and cities. At present, EVN SPC subordinate companies in 21 southern provinces and cities have synchronously installed the smart grid system and applied new technologies to remote meter readers. By the end of 2016, EVN SPC's power companies had completed installing more than 1.5 million electronic meters and built synchronous telemetry data collection system, helping EVN SPC free up over 550 meter reading employees, improve labour productivity, increase commercial electricity output by 0.56 per cent, and reduce power loss by 0.41 per cent over 2015. In 2016, EVN SPC saw its power sales rise by 13.65 per cent, have 347,417 new customers and enjoy a growth rate of 4.99 per cent. In addition, key investment projects met the progress. EVN SPC brought electricity to remote areas and offshore islands.

In order to effectively carry out the power technology development strategy and the information technology system development plan for 2016 - 2030, EVN SPC continued to invest in the remote data collection system and smart grid development, deployed advanced transmission management programme, and improved business performance to create stronger development momentum.

Power grid management and operation in 21 provinces and cities
Since the launch of SCADA Operating Centre, located at 72 Hai Ba Trung Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, on June 29, EVN SPC has been working to digitally operate the power grid in 21 southern cities. This is one of the important steps to accomplish the smart grid development strategy under the scheme approved by the Prime Minister.

EVN SPC’s SCADA Operating Centre will connect SCADA systems with its subsidiaries present in provinces and cities, thereby enabling it to operate, tackle and prevent power grid failures much more effectively than before.

Computer-based power grid and transformer digitisation
Currently, EVN SPC is managing about 200 110-kV transformer stations (each station is capable of supplying electricity for up to tens of thousands of customers, depending on the station size) and tens of thousands of kilometres of transmission lines. Previously, when the grid experienced incidents, technicians had to rely on customer feedback or manually search for the cause and then propose repair plans.

But, with the SCADA operating system, almost all transformer stations and the grid are digitised on the computer system. Just looking at computer monitors, staff can see actual grid operations such as voltage, current and capacity to operate the power source in the most stable and reasonable manner. In the event of a power failure, the SCADA system will alert management units to quickly work out solutions.

Mr Nguyen Phuoc Quy Hai, Director of EVN SPC SCADA Operating Centre, said, it would be extremely difficult to detect transient incidents if we did not have the SCADA system. This failure would trigger potential risks on a larger scale and cause more serious consequences. In addition, in the case of rain, wind, flood and storm, staff can switch off or on the power supply on the SCADA system instead of going directly to power stations.

Mr Vo Thanh Hung, Deputy Director of Tra Vinh Power Company, still remembered the day on which power failure happened in Tra Ap village, Tra Cu district on June 4. The SCADA system helped detect and solve incidents very quickly. He recalled, at 1:59 pm on June 4, the SCADA system signalled that the recloser at the Phu Ap station went bad. As the fix from the computer system did not work, with a signal of serious incident on the grid, Cau Ngang and Tra Cu teams were dispatched to the scene, 15 km away, to search for the cause. After the field inspection, the teams found out that the discharge of electricity on porcelain insulators at the La Ca 5 substation No. 1 caused the accident and urgently requested a fix order. It took one hour and 30 minutes to deal with this failure.
“When we did not have the SCADA system, we had to rely on user reports to detect the incident. It took much more time to find out the cause and fix it,” he said.

Connecting the SCADA system with regional regulator
The EVN SPC’s SCADA system construction project was launched in 2012, costing US$15.3 million, funded by the World Bank, and using Siemens (Germany) technology. The project includes a main SCADA system, a backup grid connection system and transformer substations in 21 provinces and cities, which have been in official operation since May 2017.

As the SCADA system started its operation, 104 transformer stations were connected. So far, the number of substations connected has increased to 164. After receiving the technology transferred by foreign partners, EVN SPC planned to connect all 200 transformer substations in 2017, including new ones. At the same time, the SCADA system will also be synchronously connected to the Southern Power System Regulatory Centre (A2) to share data and regulate the power supply.

With the initial success, EVN SPC will study on the second phase deployment of a smarter SCADA system. Specifically, in addition to incident detection, the new SCADA system will be programmed to automatically switch off the power in the smallest range. On the other hand, before the SCADA system was launched, a transformer substation needed about 10 people to operate but, with this system, a substation is manned by two staff members only. As a result, the need for substation workers will be significantly reduced in 21 provinces and cities.


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