Small sensors, big dataIt’s a familiar, frustrating problem: the power goes out in your home because an aging transformer somewhere in the electric grid fails. Fault detection, isolation and restoration could take hours to find and fix faulty equipment. But in an automated grid, the agility and speed of identification and precautionary steps is more instant due to access to data-on-demand. Today, a wireless sensor could detect months ahead of time that a transformer is operating at a higher-than-normal temperature – and it can be replaced long before your home goes dark. The sensors can transmit information through Sub-1 GHz connectivity when data has to be transmitted over a long range with ultra-low power for substation and distribution automation. Sub-1 GHz is also useful when multiple sensors need to transmit data to a single data collector, forming a hub-and-spoke network of communication. Also Wi-Fi® or Bluetooth® are viable for breakers used in residential or commercial establishments or in an industrial setup where high data rate and large bandwidth is required."Utilities and asset managers can reduce the load to a transformer that is approaching end-of-life so that it lasts longer, while scheduling a replacement in advance and planning to route power another way during the maintenance," Amit said. “By running asset health diagnostics, you can analyze the data for factors that affect the transformer life, such as the energy load, temperature, insulation and health. You can predict when things start to break down and prevent problems before they happen.”Similarly, smart meters can measure and communicate water, gas or electricity usage in real-time so that utility companies can effectively plan generation capacity and consumers can make more intelligent choices about their individual consumption. Our company’s ultrasonic sensing technology uses soundwaves rather than mechanical components to measure gas and water flow rates, which improves measurement accuracy to detect pipeline leaks earlier and prevents loss of scarce resources. Utility companies can also predict the battery life of smart meters with our company’s battery management technology, which allows operators to avoid service outages and premature meter replacement. “Being able to see into the future and know exactly how much longer the battery is going to last gives water and gas utility operators a much greater ability to minimize their overall total cost of ownership for a smart meter network,” said Andrew Soukup, a manager at our company. “Utilities can pass these savings on to consumers.”A smarter way to distribute powerAs power sources trend toward renewable energies like solar and wind, the modernized grid – once a one-way street from generator to user – is evolving into a dynamic, interconnected web. Homes with small-scale wind or solar farms are both consumers and generators of electricity, augmenting central power plants. “In the past decade, alternative sources like wind and solar have taken off for several reasons,” said Bart Basile, a system engineer for our company. “The technologies have gotten better, they've become less expensive and consumer demand for renewably sourced energy has grown.” In addition to distributed small-scale generation, power can be generated from large wind and solar farms in remote areas with low demand for distribution and routed to cities or suburbs that need more than they could produce locally – even across state lines. "In Texas, for example, it's more common now to have private companies build out the distribution network," he said. "And then energy providers of power can figure out which source to tap into as they need."Electricity storage on wheelsAs transportation also becomes greener – and electric vehicles replace cars, trucks and buses that run on fossil fuels – onboard chargers will get better at storing power. With bi-directional charging, cars become electricity storage on wheels that charge at one location and deliver it back to the grid at another when it’s needed. Imagine if the electric vehicle in your garage could run 400 miles on one charge, but through communications, cloud computing and the automated grid, the car knows you won’t drive more than 50 miles tomorrow. Energy you won’t be using could be pulled out of the car while you sleep and delivered back to the grid to power your home, for example, and to balance fluctuations in power demand.“Right now we have a traditional network meant for traditional power generation,” Amit said. “But technology breakthroughs are creating a diversified database of power sources. As utility companies manage those to build the grid of the future, we’ll see improvements in monitoring, protection and control.”
All content and materials on this site are provided "as is". TI and its respective suppliers and providers of content make no representations about the suitability of these materials for any purpose and disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to these materials, including but not limited to all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement of any third party intellectual property right. No license, either express or implied, by estoppel or otherwise, is granted by TI. Use of the information on this site may require a license from a third party, or a license from TI.
TI is a global semiconductor design and manufacturing company. Innovate with 100,000+ analog ICs andembedded processors, along with software, tools and the industry’s largest sales/support staff.