lundi 1 février 2010

Sensors for the Smart Grid: Market  Opportunities 2010­2017  

Why the Smart Grid is an Important Opportunity for Sensor Firms

Overall, the grid infrastructure market worldwide represents about an $80‐billion a year industry with approximately $20 billion of that in the North American markets. While the transition to a more intelligent grid has already started, the current grid is dominated by a system that is mostly electromechanical in nature, radial in its layout with centralized generating capacity and one way in its communication with little or no sensor feedback to centralized decision makers.

The transition to a digital network with two‐way communication, a network topology with distributed generation, grid storage and pervasive control systems and self monitoring presents extremely attractive opportunities for sensor firms.

These opportunities can be grouped into three general areas:

  • The first is the “line infrastructure” or “transmission grid,” which consists of the transmission lines that run from the point of power generation to the substations (distribution hubs).
  • Second is the local distribution grid, which runs from the substation to the home (end user). This segment represents an overall worldwide market of about $40 billion a year, with $10 billion a year in North America. It is in this section we will also include opportunities centered on distributed generation, microgrids and variable generation sources (wind and solar).
  • The third group is the edge infrastructure, which starts at the smart meter and includes everything within the home, or office, building, etc. This segment represents an overall worldwide market of about $6 billion a year, of which $2 billion a year is in North America.

7 Types of Sensors for the Smart Grid

1/7- Wireless sensor networks for AMI:
The AMI represents the first two‐way communication between the delivery infrastructure and the end consumer. The AMI will allow the central distribution system to monitor in real time the use of each individual node on the grid and allow information about outages to be transported back to the central command structure. The AMI represents a real opportunity for the emergence of wireless smart sensor networks within the home or small business space as well as sensor opportunities for utility outage detection.

2/7- Smart voltage sensors:
Smart voltage sensors will be one of many evolving smart sensor components.
While traditional regulators at the substation and on main distribution lines are part of the current electromechanical net, voltage sensors along spurs and near the end of the line that report back on current conditions are currently rare but will become pervasive as part of the emerging smart‐grid sensor network. Currently, without end‐of‐line sensors, long distribution lines must use inefficient high voltages at the feeder distribution point to ensure that the voltage at the end of the line is never below quoted specification. The addition of smart sensors at the end of the line can report real‐time voltage data back to the feeder line so it can distribute the current at a lower voltage than it otherwise could without the sensor information, thus allowing more efficient use of the available electricity in the distribution network. This will be especially useful in rural areas with long radial lines.

3/7- Smart capacitor control:

Currently, large capacitors are used on the grid to maintain voltage and
power factor1. While the capacitors are able to react to changing voltage, current or power factor, they are not monitored or controlled remotely. The addition of smart sensors that can monitor and control capacitor banks remotely will increase the overall efficiency of the distribution network.

4/7- Smart sensors for outage detection:
In addition to smart meters, smart continuity grid sensors that can communicate with the central distribution points will improve outage detection.

5/7- Smart sensors for transformer monitoring:
Transformers represent one of the more expensive assets of local utility companies, but monitoring in general is limited to once a year manual dissolved gas analysis and periodic temperature observation with IR cameras. On‐line sensors for dissolved gas analysis and temperature monitoring with two‐way communications back to the substation represent a significant opportunity.
High‐voltage line temperature and weather condition sensors: Sensors will provide real‐time temperature and weather conditions for to improve the efficiency of high voltage distribution lines and allow more accurate dispatch of current in times of significant demand with reduced chance of outages due to line sag.

6/7- Distributed generation:
For distributed generation to be viable in the emerging smart grid, sensors for load balancing between the greater grid and the distributed generating sources will be crucial.

7/7- Smart grid storage:
Sensor opportunities are two fold for smart grid storage. There will be opportunities both in monitoring the status of all battery cells in storage banks and in load monitoring and dispatch of energy from the battery bank to the greater grid.

Source : Nanomarkets, Dec.09

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