Subject: Smart Grids
The rapid technological progress and investments in the electricity grid have played a crucial role in significantly improving the efficiency of energy generation, transport, distribution and consumption, as well as reducing environmental impact.
The rapid evolution of the new Smart Grids is causing important changes in the distribution network. The introduction into that network of increasing quantities of Diffused Generation (DG), based on small and middle-sized systems that usually use renewable energy sources, has transformed the distribution network from passive to active. Some of the network's main functions need to be redesigned, in order to ensure the control, the reliability, the safety and the quality of the service. The essential enabling factors are communication networks to interconnect decision and control points, in addition to algorithms for the coordinated management, control and protection of the network.
So far research has concentrated on primary stations (that connect the distribution and transport networks) and on sensors and actuators (for the control of power flows). However, the potential benefits of the new Smart Grids are not limited to DG control, but include a bigger involvement of end users (including mobile ones, such as the users of electric vehicles). End users become players who are aware of the network's status and function and of the price of energy in the market. Through smart metering and display interfaces that supply information in brief, users can respond to network signals by changing their consumption profiles through appropriate strategies.
Secondary Substations (SS) are important elements for all the services that can directly involve end users and their new relationship with the electric system. SS are the most remote nodes that can interact directly with the devices of the user domain. SS have so far received little attention, but they can be used to enable advanced services for end users in a cheap, efficient manner (other than improving the management of the electricity grid).
In this project SS are designed to become the heart of intelligent services for all the users of the electricity distribution network and not just the cities and communities they are located in. There is a very high number of SS in the region and especially in cities and towns (there are over 500,000 SS in the Italian distribution networks). Their geographical positions are such that they can usually cover urban areas over short distances. Equipping them with broad band connectivity will make them the ideal site for a platform for intelligent services. This platform will collect data from sensors in different domains (such as electric supplies, street lighting, traffic and roads, physical safety, etc.) and distribute it to processing systems that provide the public with Smart Grid and Smart City services.