Control and communication systems
When the electricity network includes distributed generators, some of which have a production that is affected by fixed external factors (ex. wind or photovoltaic generators) and other elements, loads and storages, that can somehow be commanded, it is essential to ensure an adequate exchange of information and develop control strategies capable of guaranteeing network balance and electricity supply quality, maximizing the number of distributed generators that can be connected.
In other words, the transfer from a "traditional" network to a "smart" grid can occur if there are communication and control systems which overlap and innervate the actual electricity network.
Of course, there are different technologies that can be used for communication, both cable (mainly Power Line, using the electricity cables to transmit the information), and wireless.
It is possible to adopt different strategies for the control aspect as well, as alternatives or combined together: a single centralized controller, for ex. for the entire part of the connected network to a specific transformer, or local controllers, that work on an element of the network based on the measures carried out locally.
For several years, RSE has carried out research on the subject, performing tests and measures on its actual Test Facility of Distributed Generation in Low Tension. Control issues related to the different devices and especially the related integration requirements have been analyzed. Experimental tests have been carried out on the different types of communication devices, also in connection to specific configurations of the electricity network.
These activities include simulations both in static and dynamic environments to analyze the behavior of active MV networks, with complexities and configuration variables that are difficult to duplicate in a Test Facility. Tools have been created to devise centralized and local controllers and to ensure they work in the network conditions that are identified as especially critical. The control strategies use optimization procedures related to the operating costs of the networks and therefore, implicitly, to the "business models" that can be hypothesized.