Utilities and grid operators are under pressure to meet net zero carbon goals, but transitioning to a net zero grid comes with unprecedented challenges.
Traditionally, power grids have relied on fossil fuels to maintain high levels of grid inertia. High inertia means greater grid stability and fewer disruptions, such as blackouts. Similarly, power grids require a sufficient level of system strength to function safely. But more renewable energy sources on the grid mean lower levels of grid inertia and lower system strength.
At present, grid inertia and system strength are modeled, not measured, causing stakeholders to make conservative decisions about renewable energy in anticipation of low probability events. This either means sticking to the status quo and doing what has always been done– relying on fossil fuels to maintain grid stability or huge network reinforcement costs.
Modeling alone has a margin of error that is too large. Without accurate measurements of grid stability, utilities and grid operators cannot make informed decisions to transition more renewable energy onto the grid safely – and ultimately move the needle towards net zero.
Until now, utilities and grid operators have had limited visibility. But today, Reactive Technologies has the tools necessary to accelerate and simplify the global energy transition that is already well underway.
This tool is called Grid-Sonar™.
Reactive Technologies has developed a unique solution to make this once-invisible data visible to grid operators.
Reactive’s flagship Grid-Sonar™ technology provides the world’s first direct measurement of grid inertia and the only real-time wide view of system strength.
With this accurate, real-time data, grid operators can make informed decisions about renewable energy supply and demand.
Consider how sonar works: when a sound wave hits an object, a signal is sent back to the transducer that measures the time it took for this signal to return. With Grid-Sonar™, the power pulses emitted by the modulator act like sound waves, and the returning signals provide grid-wide measurements of inertia.
Every utility and grid operator is on their own unique pathway to a net zero grid, and stakeholders across the globe are using Grid-Sonar™ to help in their energy transition.
Reactive Technologies’ Grid-Sonar ™ technology measures grid response through a periodic pulse of energy that is pushed into the system via a custom-built modulator. The signal that comes back provides real-time grid insights with unprecedented accuracy, allowing grid operators to monitor inertia and system strength levels and stay prepared should a disturbance arise.
Reactive’s bespoke, highly accurate eXtensible Measurement Unit (XMU)—a small desktop box–plugs into and collects frequency and voltage data from the grid. It then extracts the modulation’s unique messages using signal processing techniques only found in the telecommunications industry. The combination of the signal generated by the modulator’s power pulse and XMUs’ data collection enables the most accurate readings of grid frequency and voltage available today.
Once the noise has been filtered out, the minute changes in frequency and voltage can be observed across the entire grid. The behavior of these frequency movements is a measure of the grid’s inertia, while the voltage movements measure the grid’s system strength.
In high-inertia grid regions, the frequency movements will be slow as the inertia resists the change the power signal places into the grid. However, in low inertia grid regions, the frequency movement will be faster as there is less resistance.
By monitoring the rate of change of frequency (RoCoF) and knowing the size of the modulation signal, transmission grid operators receive an accurate measurement of the state of inertia across the entire grid. Similarly, distribution grid operators can closely track voltage and get clear, accurate measurements of system strength with Grid-Sonar™.
Using these measurements, Reactive Technologies can predict and forecast grid inertia and system strength and grid operators can make informed decisions about adding renewable energy sources to the grid.
Armed with more complete and accurate information on stability, grid operators can accelerate their renewable energy transition – meeting net zero goals in record time and cost-effectively.
Want to learn more about how Grid-Sonar™ works? Download the white paper.
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The accuracy of Grid-Sonar™ is validated at scale on both small and large grids around the world. This accuracy is unprecedented in the power sector. The effectiveness of Grid-Sonar™ is a giant leap forward from today’s status quo. Rather than relying on models, estimates, or “effective inertia monitoring,” Grid-Sonar™ empowers grid operators with precise, real-time measurements to inform better decision-making and more effective utilization of renewable power.