Electric vehicles require us to intensify our efforts
The green conversion of the electricity sector, particularly exemplified by the increasing numbers of electric vehicles, is particularly challenging to utility companies. Many sections of the electrical grid are not dimensioned for the charging of such a large number of electric vehicles at essentially the same time every single day. To be able to overcome these new challenges, the utilities need more knowledge about consumption, voltage and grid status.
“Anecdotally, we used to have one peak-load period a year, which was the two hours on Christmas Eve when the entire country seemed to be cooking Christmas dinner at the same time. And if the grid could get through that unscathed, then we were home free,” says Carsten Aagaard, Operations Manager, Energi Ikast, who adds:
“But the rising use of electrical vehicles means that it’s Christmas Eve every day of the year. As as result, we need to accelerate our efforts and get our grid under even better control to keep up.”
Intelligent investments in the grid
“We’ll undoubtedly need to invest enormous sums in the grid going forward. But initially, we can plan these investments and reinforce the grid wherever this is actually needed. Not just where we think that replacement is needed,” Carsten Aagaard explains.
Kamstrup’s solution enables Energi Ikast not only to see what needs to be maintained right now due to overloading. It also enables the utility to plan maintenance in a long term perspective, three, five or perhaps ten years from now.
“This enables us to invest smarter than we could before. And it’s a brilliant tool for meeting the Danish Energy Agency’s requirements for grid-development plans that we need to finalise by next year,” Carsten Aagaard says.
More consumers pay for what they actually use
“Until we received Kamstrup’s solution, we did things more or less as usual. In other words, all we actually looked at was the number of kilowatts used, even if the meters could have given us a lot more information,” Carsten Aagaard says.
Finding out which consumers were using more power than they were paying for used to take an enormous effort. Four times a year, we would merge spreadsheets with calculations and meter readings, and then calculate and validate the data. This took a lot of resources.
According to Carsten Aagaard, the company identified 43 customers who exceeded the agreed consumption once Power Flow was activated. Also, he expects that Kamstrup’s solution will enable them to identify even more industrial customers who aren’t paying for all the power they use.
“Now, everything is visualised on screen, and we can promptly see if anyone is exceeding the amount they’ve paid for. And then send them a little greeting,” Carsten Aagaard says.
Power Flow and Power Quality Monitoring enable Carsten Aagaard and his grid connection managers to get a quick overview of the grid. And if faults occur, they can react immediately.
“I’ve set up a few permanent monitors, so all I need is five or ten minutes a day to get an overview. Being able to see that things are running up to par gives me peace of mind,” explains Carsten Aagaard, who continues:
“It also makes us much more efficient. In the past, there were many situations where we didn’t discover the fault until the customer phoned us. Then we’d have to get an overview of the area, take readings and do calculations. Now we can react right away. In some cases the customer never even discovers that there was a problem until after we’ve resolved it.
The solution generally enables Energi Ikast to stay on top of things. At the same time, the time saved makes it possible to cut other costs, too.
“Thanks to Kamstrup’s solution, we’ve found loose connections in cable cabinets that we’ve fixed before anything got damaged at the customer’s. This has saved lots of insurance payments. It has saved quite a number of cable cabinets from destruction, too,” says Carsten Aagaard who assesses that Energi Ikast saves the costs of replacing around seven cable cabinets a year.
The combined costs saved in terms of man-hours, replacements and insurance losses, as well as the added income, means the Power Flow and Power Quality Monitoring solution has already paid for itself one year after it was implemented.