'Grid of the future' to determine energy transition

'Grid of the future' to determine energy transition
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KUALA LUMPUR (June 6): Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) will continue to give priority to investing in modernising the national grid to become the "grid of the future", a smart grid that remains dependable, resilient to disruption, smart with digital technology, and flexible in meeting the nation's energy transition needs.

In line with the energy transition from using fuel to 31% renewable energy (RE) by 2025, the national grid needs to be equipped with the capability to receive RE to support the dynamic two-way energy flow and at the same time maintain voltage stability.

Therefore, under the Incentive Based Regulation (IBR) framework, TNB plans to invest RM9 billion annually from 2021 to 2024, subject to government approval, to continue its efforts in developing the grid of the future to be a key enabler of energy transition by connecting the entire value chain from generation to delivery and distribution all the way to the customers' premises.

Consumers have actually enjoyed the grid of the future in the last few years through TNB's capital expenditure, also under IBR, which includs all the features used by global energy utilities such as distribution automation (DA), geospatial information system (GIS), advanced metering infrastructure with a resilient grid system equipped with cybersecurity.

These initiatives started with TNB's transformation programme, Reimagining TNB (RT), since 2016 whereby preparations for the grid of the future is one of the four main pillars of the programme to achieve TNB's target of becoming among the world's top 10 utility companies by 2025.

Nevertheless, chief grid officer Datuk Husaini Husin said TNB needs to continue investing to ensure a more flexible and consistent grid to accept other sources especially RE such as solar, which is expanding with more consumers becoming prosumers.

Currently, the country's electricity supply is already world class and is even better than some developed countries' including in Europe.

In the transmission system minutes that measure the minutes of interference due to high voltage each year, TNB recorded a reduction to 0.08 minute in 2020, its 12th consecutive year below the two-minute level.

It is a superior achievement in Southeast Asia as well as in the world.

For comparison, ESKOM South Africa recorded 3.16 minutes (2019), TransGrid Australia 0.25 minute (2019), and FinGrid 0.15 minute (2020).

Strengthening the grid system alone is not enough, digital technology ingenuity is also used to complete the aspirations of the grid of the future and a comprehensive strategy called the Digital Transformation Grid Programme has been formulated, focusing on digital development on four basic thrusts, namely assets, employees, systems, and innovation.

A total of 55 digital initiatives are actively undertaken under this programme and spearheaded by Control Tower, a new function created to ensure the digital grid transformation journey is implemented effectively while maximising the return on investment made in line with RT's aspirations.

Distribution network

The System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI), the global energy industry's method of measuring the average length of time consumers spend when a supply disruption occurs in a year, has consistently declined under 60 minutes since 2014 to reach 44.95 minutes last year.

This achievement puts TNB in a world-class position for SAIDI Country category after South Korea's KEPCO (8.31 minutes) and Brunei's DES (34 minutes) while SAIDI for developed countries such as Fance's Enedis is 64.2 minutes and Italy's Enel is 49 minutes.

These are among the progress achieved through investment in the DA system installation to accelerate supply recovery, which to date has involved 17,965 of the more than 85,000 distribution substations across Peninsular Malaysia.

Chief distribution network officer Wan Nazmy Wan Mahmood said TNB plans to implement DA to 49% of its distribution substations by 2025 in an effort to modernise the distribution network to support the grid of the future.

DA allows the recovery of supply disruptions to distribution substations to be done within 15 minutes and could even be as fast as five minutes compared with 120 minutes before its implementation based on 2014 data.

It is facilitated by faster disturbance detections through the use of GIS that accurately maps TNB assets such as underground cables while its efficiency is enhanced through increased employees productivity in the field using digital solutions.

Also equipped with Advanced Distribution Management System that enables self-healing grid capability, it is able to isolate network faults automatically and make recovery automated also by changing the supply flow.

To maintain voltage stability, Volt-VAR Optimisation is also implemented.

These are five of the seven initiatives aggressively implemented by TNB throughout the peninsula and five more additional initiatives will be carried out to complete the smart utility programme in line with TNB's transformation.

All these efforts become more effective when customers' participation is strengthened through the installation of smart meters, which have reached more than 1.2 million in Melaka and the Klang Valley, allowing customers to control their energy consumption through daily data monitoring on the myTNB web portal and application.

"The results of this massive investment can be assessed by the benchmark Smart Grid Index (SGI) 2020 with TNB getting 62.5%, second in ASEAN behind SP Power from Singapore (75%). TNB's aspiration is to reach 85% by 2025 to be among the top 20 utilities in the SGI World Ranking," Wan Nazmy said.

SGI is a worldwide smart grid energy utility performance level measurement indicator based on seven key dimensions, namely customer satisfaction and empowerment, security, green energy, monitoring and control, data analysis, supply reliability, and renewable energy integration.

He said the implementation of various programmes for the smart grid is able to contribute to the nation's economic development besides winning customers heart with the best service at an affordable price.

"The implementation of these programmes aims to stimulate the country's economic growth, develop the green energy sector, accelerate the knowledge-based economy, and create various employment opportunities.

"It will also support the national agenda to move towards a low carbon economy as well as drive the aspirations of the Industrial Revolution 4.0 by developing supplier capabilities and skills," he added.