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Protection, control and monitoring of medium voltage networks: researchers develop platform for the substation of the future

The SCALE project, which brought together INESC TEC, Efacec, Armis and the Telecommunications Institute, has ended. The collaboration between these entities translated into a platform for the digital distribution substation of the future - which allows to control, monitor, and protect power distribution networks. The solution has been successfully demonstrated in the laboratory.

16th October 2023

An innovative architecture that virtualises protection equipment on a single computing platform, contributing to greater security, flexibility, and reliability of power distribution networks, addressing the increasing complexity of network operations. This was the result of the SCALE project - Scalable Centralized Grid Protection, Automation and Control - with INESC TEC's participation.


"The solution successfully developed and demonstrated challenges current digital substation architectures; it's also a disruptive alternative to the previous generation of PAC products and solutions - currently part of the industry - with a strong impact on the business models", explained Clara Gouveia.


According to the INESC TEC researcher, the centralised platform "enables the development of new applications for event processing and management, network control and automation, which contribute to improving operating efficiency, reliability and promote the safe integration of renewable production".


In the SCALE project, INESC TEC was responsible for the development of advanced network automation applications, namely the automatic identification of anomalous events and voltage regulation and adaptive protection - which were successfully integrated into the centralised protection platform. "We were also responsible for the implementation of the test infrastructure for the demonstration of the solution, which consists of a Hardware In the Loop (HIL) system, composed of the real-time simulator that emulates the conditions of the network and the communication with the centralised protection, as well as with the protection devices with analogue inputs/outputs", mentioned Clara Gouveia.


The demonstration of this HIL infrastructure, which allows testing new monitoring, protection and control equipment or new algorithms and applications developed for network automation, took place at INESC TEC Laboratory of Smart Grids and Electric Vehicles (SGEV).


Efacec was the leader of this project - starting in January 2021 and ending in June 2023. SCALE was funded via the Compete2020, benefiting from a total of €2.2M.