Shorter power cuts mean smaller losses for households
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed a tool that can be used
to shorten power cuts caused by storms and to reduce the resulting costs and
damage, such as faults in household electrical appliances and frozen water
The tool can be used to simulate mutual dependencies between mobile
communication networks and electrical grids in different fault scenarios,
including damage caused by storms. This information assists in evaluating the
length of power cuts experienced by consumers, improving the reliability of
networks, and thereby shortening power cuts.
The simulation tool evaluates the interdependence of mobile communication
networks and electrical grids in the case of failure, permitting study, for
example, of how a storm damages the electrical grid and subsequently affects
mobile communication networks.
Loss or quality degradation of telecommunications links makes remote control,
maintenance, and repair of the electrical grid more difficult. Impaired mobile
communication networks interfere with automation, slow down repair works on
the electrical grid and lengthen power cuts significantly.
Examining different kinds of failures and analysing the operation of
electrical grids and mobile communication networks enables identification of
the critical entities in the networks, and hence to take measures to increase
network reliability. At the same time, damages payable by electricity and
insurance companies to consumers can be kept to a minimum.
Launch planned for 2015
The simulation tool supports current mobile 2G/3G network technologies, but
can also be upgraded to support future network technologies, such as LTE-A
(Long Term Evolution Advanced), which is set to be the future standard of
mobile networks. The tool will be ready for operational use in 2015.
The majority of electrical grid isolator switches (disconnectors and
reclosers) are still controlled manually. The simulation tool allows energy
companies to study how and where in the electrical grid automation and
remotely controlled isolator switches could be used, to minimise the extent of
the power outage.
Electricity supply of mobile communication network components and consumers
can be rerouted to decrease effects of the outage. This will prevent the
failure from escalating, and speed up repairs.
Expectations placed on the reliability of data communication networks are
growing due to automation and real-time monitoring of smart grids. Moreover,
distributed electrical power generation requires a smart electrical grid,
which makes electrical grids and mobile communication networks even more
Also suited for evaluating power cuts resulting from cyber attacks and snow
In addition to damage caused by storms, the tool can be used to evaluate the
effects of power cuts resulting from other causes. These include cyber attacks
against the electrical grid control systems, as well as snow loads and solar
New applications for the simulation tool can also be found in the study of
interaction between other infrastructures and critical services. Examples
include interaction between the electrical grid and water supply, and that
between the electrical grid, mobile communication networks and banking
services (or rescue services).
The simulation tool was developed as part of the SGEM (Smart Grids and Energy
Markets) research programme. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland’s
partners in the project included Viola Systems, ABB, Fortum, NSN and
in Kirkkonummi during the 2011 storm "Hannu". (Photo: VTT
Technical Research Centre of Finland/Olli Pihlajamaa)