New smart grid technologies are opening the way for ready to implement self-healing grids.

One of the promises of the smart grid is the opportunity to create self-healing grids that are able to perform near real-time isolation and restoration of power outages. And now the technology is at a point where it can be implemented virtually off-the-shelf, resulting in uptake by an increasing number of North American utilities.

“The United States holds an ‘undesirable’ award from the DOE and NERC – that of suffering more blackouts than any other developed nation, and moreover that number has been steadily increasing over the past decade,” Sacha Fontaine, head of Smart Grid at Theorem Geo Associates, told Engerati in an exclusive interview, explaining this growing uptake.

“Power quality and reliability is the number one factor in the JD Power ratings – and while interestingly, the more information customers are given on outages, the more accepting they are of longer outages – by reducing the duration of outages we are improving the reliability as well as providing business value.”

Self-healing team design

Fontaine, who is working with several North American utilities on self-healing grid implementation, explains there are just a few components required for a basic self-healing team between two substations. These are breakers at the substations, reclosers close to the middle of the feeders, either geographically or to the number of customers connected, and in between them a tie recloser (which is normally open).

Underlying these is a self-healing software which is monitoring the states and conditions at each of the points. If a fault is detected, it can be isolated to the smallest segment and if the conditions permit restoration will happen.

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