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Información de la Tesis Doctoral

Contribution to the analysis and evaluation of the digitalisation of smart grids

Néstor Rodríguez Pérez

Dirigida por J. Matanza, G. López

17 de junio de 2024


Digitalisation is the main vehicle to make the grid smarter and face the challenges of the energy transition. This digitalisation involves the deployment of sensors and actuators in the distribution grid, connectivity, and data processing technologies, having an impact on multiple activities of Distribution System Operators (DSOs).

This PhD thesis aims to address some of the aspects significantly related to the digital transformation of distribution grids to increase the effectiveness of this process. To achieve this, this PhD thesis first identifies the key technologies and challenges associated with this transformation. Based on this, it proposes a framework for measuring the level of digitalisation in distribution grids and develops a methodology for conducting quantitative Scalability and Replicability Analyses (SRA) of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in smart grid solutions. Since the high scalability and replicability of ICTs may also have a negative impact, the thesis explores the potential impact of cyberattacks on scalable and replicable devices, such as high-wattage IoT devices and Distributed Energy Resources (DER) control devices. Finally, the increased penetration of DER and the cybersecurity risk require better coordination between System Operators (SOs). For this, the last part of this thesis identifies and discusses the communication and data model standards that SOs may adopt to enhance coordination and system resilience.

The examination of the main technologies used in the digitalisation of distribution grids and their applications shows that disruptive technologies such as digital twins, inspection and immersive technologies, Artificial Intelligence (AI), or Internet of Things (IoT) can transform the activities of DSOs. In terms of challenges, the main ones associated with digitalisation affect cybersecurity, core processes, and the electric power ecosystem in general.

To assess the level of digitalisation in distribution grids, 16 indicators, categorized according to the pillars of digitalisation, are proposed. These indicators are aligned with the guidelines set forth in Article 59.1 of the EU Directive 2019/944 and with the Joint Research Center DSO Observatory. They are designed to be applicable regardless of the use cases, requiring minimal data input, and could be used to establish causal relationships between performance and digital infrastructure.

To facilitate the digitalisation process through the deployment of scalable and replicable solutions, a step-by-step methodology for conducting ICT Scalability and Replicability Analysis (SRA) in smart grids is developed. To validate this methodology, it is applied to two real case studies simulated in OMNeT++. Case study A examines a self-consumption monitoring and control system that implements the Modbus TCP protocol. Case study B analyses an indoor conditions monitoring system based on wireless M-Bus for the implementation of an energy management system. The results are presented using ICT scalability and replicability maps, a new concept that allows a quick overview of the analysed scenarios and an efficient estimation of the feasibility of unexplored scenarios.

To evaluate the potential impact of massively compromising internet-connected devices present in smart grids, two studies using DigSilent PowerFactory are conducted. The first study examines the replicability of Manipulation of Demand through IoT (MaDIoT) attacks in two different power system models: the PST-16 model, which represents a simplified version of Europe, and the IEEE 39-Bus model, which represents New England (North America). This study highlights the differences in the success and impact of the attacks between the two models, thus expanding and complementing previous research. The second study evaluates the replicability of MaDIoT attacks in a power system that incorporates distributed solar PV generation, resulting in lower probability of success. Furthermore, it analyses the impact of MaDIoT 3.0 attacks in different scenarios. MaDIoT 3.0 attacks are introduced in this thesis as an evolution of the original MaDIoT attacks, and combine attacks on both the demand and DER devices.

Finally, this thesis examines the protocols and standards commonly used in recent European projects for data exchange between SOs. It discusses the utilisation of these protocols and standards for exchanging specific types of information, with a particular focus on the Common Information Model (CIM), which provides a great coverage of technical information but needs further development, and two alternative communication mechanisms (publish-subscribe and client-server), whose characteristics must be considered when developing an ICT architecture.

Resumen divulgativo:

Esta tesis se centra en la digitalización de las redes inteligentes, identificando las tecnologías clave y proponiendo indicadores para medirla y una metodología para el SRA de las TIC. También analiza el impacto de los ataques MaDIoT y el intercambio de datos TSO-DSO para una operación resiliente.

Descriptores: Transmisión y Distribución, Tecnología de las Telecomunicaciones, Ingeniería y Tecnología Eléctricas

Palabras clave: Smart Grids; Digitalisation; Information and Communication Technologies; Scalability; Replicability; MaDIoT attacks

N. Rodríguez Pérez (2024), Contribution to the analysis and evaluation of the digitalisation of smart grids. Madrid (España).

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