Power up your electric network with a Digital Twin

By Jonas Jacobsson

In the modern world, we use more electricity than ever. Not only because we have more devices – it is also one of the most environmentally friendly ways to power up our days. Most of us use electricity from early morning to late night. We switch on the light when we wake up. Take a shower with blissfully hot water. Put the kettle on for our morning cup. Switch on the computer to work from home, or make our way to work, possibly in an electric vehicle. On it goes, until we go to bed and turn the lights out. And when we go to sleep, the electricity supply never stops. Facilities, street lights, public transport, night workers – the list is endless. What happens in a society during this change of electricity use, when more and more electricity is needed?

Everyone who uses electricity needs an electric network operator, who ensures that electricity is provided for the end-customer. If you are that electric network operator, what do you need to deliver electricity as smoothly as possible? At a minimum, you need an electric network you can trust. And you cannot trust a network you do not know. You must be able to:

  1. Estimate – how much electricity is required in various areas, to ensure a consistent supply
  2. Solve – any issues that may cause electric outages, preferably before they even occur
  3. Inform – the end-customer on action procedures, should an electric outage occur

With the expectations of modern societies, you cannot do such things without a deep knowledge of your electric network. You need to monitor everything that is going on to provide a reliable service.

At Digpro, we have over 30 years’ experience working with electric network operators and the challenges you face. dpPower is a software system custom made for electric utilities. It offers highly scalable and reliable network information, and is already supporting numerous electric network operators with a digital visualization of their data. Let us look at how a Digital Twin can help you to provide a reliable service.

Estimate electricity supply and demand

Solar power, electrical vehicle charges, wind power and potential energy storages are continuously added to electrical networks. This is a contribution to a more sustainable society. It helps to connect reusable energy to the electric network, and it supports everyone who wants to switch from fossil to renewable transportations. Knowing all actual and potential changes in details, is a must to keep pace. With dpPower, you can create a Digital Twin. It helps you to collate data, and by analyzing it, you can also estimate how much electricity that is needed, as well as where and when. When you have a Digital Twin of your electric network, the collated data indicates where and when you need to adjust your electricity supply.

Electric car charging on street
Should half of the population in a neighborhood turn to electric vehicles, and this area consequently installs a number of charging points, more electricity will be consumed.

Solve electric outages

An electric outage can be devastating for the end-customer, and you have to restore the power supply quickly. With dpPower, Digpro has developed a number of features to support you during both planned and unplanned outages. The key issue for restoring an outage is to locate the cause of it. dpPower has a wide range of techniques using various information sources to do this, quickly and precisely. We use customers’ trouble calls, alarms from consumer meters, real-time information from SCADA and fault current readings from substations. Each part supply pieces of information, which taken together make an automatic fault localization. But the real game changer comes with advanced metering. Gathering all alarms from the meters and analyzing this with the Digital Twin, will get an automated way of pinpointing the outage a soon as the disturbance occurs. Virtually, no end-customer will report an outage you do not already know has occurred.

Inform your end-customer

In the case of an electric outage, dpPower allows you to inform the end-user about the situation. It is reassuring to know why there has been an electric outage, and calming to know when it will be over. As all electric network operators know, it is equally important to inform the end-user about an unplanned outage as it is to actually resolve it. And in modern societies, end-customers are not satisfied to be informed once. They expect a continuous flow of information. When the outage occurred. What caused it. When the outage will be restored. But as an electric network operator, you need to focus on solving the problem, not answering questions from worried end-customers. In these cases, dpPower supports you to:

  • Update your homepage with accurate outage maps
  • Send SMS-messages to affected end-customers
  • Inform end-customer support centers about the status of the outage

This information loop can be completely automated. As soon as several meters send alarms of an outage, dpPower will calculate on the affected electric network, and send an automated SMS-message to all affected end-customers. You will not only know about the outage before the customer calls – you will be the one to inform them.

The power of a Digital Twin

At the very best, a Digital Twin will help you to solve the issues as described above. Nevertheless, creating a Digital Twin is not easy, and cannot be executed when data is scattered between different systems, lacking a common and comprehensive view of the electric network. Three of the most important aspects when setting up a Digital Twin are to include:

  • Functions for early planning – you ought to start building the Digital Twin as soon as you are thinking about changing or expanding the electric network
  • Processes for quality control – which may be easy in the early planning phases, yet strict in the commissioning phases
  • All stakeholders – with internet enabled solutions, along with an advanced authorization system, you involve everyone in building your digital twin, from office personnel to field technicians

Creating a Digital Twin is the core of dpPower, as all data is collated in one software system. Once a Digital Twin is correctly created, it becomes more or less autogenerating. The Digital Twin improves the planning of electric network extension. And, as a result, the improved electric network planning will update the Digital Twin. This is a win-win situation.

Enjoying work and coffee
We want to switch on the light when we wake up in the morning. We want that hot shower, our morning cup, and to get on with work. Without having to consider it.

The electrical network provides power for the utilities we all require on a daily basis. As an electrical network operator, it is your responsibility to ensure that the electricity is accessible. Every day. At all times. Can you afford to not take complete control of your electrical network?

Do you want to learn more about how a Digital Twin can support your electrical network? Contact one of our engineers for a demo.

Meet the expert

Jonas Jacobsson is CEO at Digpro Solutions AB, and has numerous years’ experience in the power and electric industry. He holds a Master of Science in Industrial Engineering and Management from Linköping’s University, and a Master of Science in System and Control Engineering from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland USA. After a trainee position at ABB in 1996, Jonas continued his career focusing on IT solutions for electric distributions. He has worked at Digpro for over ten years, focusing on sales and management.