- Cloud solution based on Microsoft Azure
- IT strategy for smart grid business processes and models
Luzern/Gütersloh – As part of a project to introduce Redispatch 2.0 processes at Westfalen Weser Netz GmbH (WWN), the consulting firm HORIZONTE Group and the IT service provider Arvato Systems have built a cloud-based data platform for the East Westphalian network operator. From this, the redispatch processes are to be consistently fed with all the necessary data, but in the future, numerous other business processes and models of intelligent grid operation and the energy transition.
Based on the Energy Industry Act (EnWG) and the Grid Expansion Acceleration Act (NABEG), Redispatch 2.0 was established to manage power grid bottlenecks. Through comprehensive forecasts, real-time and planning data to be exchanged, potential grid bottlenecks are to be identified early and avoided through "redispatch," i.e. a modification of the planned power plant deployment. All generation plants (conventional, RE, CHP) and controllable loads with a capacity of 100 kW or more must be included in this process, representing an immense effort for the nearly 900 grid operators in Germany.
"For distribution grid operators, Redispatch 2.0 means that grid technology and grid management will have to work together more closely than before," explains Bashkim Malushaj, a member of the Board of Directors at HORIZONTE-Group AG. "This applies both in terms of organization and information technology. A common central data platform is the foundation and bracket for digitized and increasingly data-driven business processes. This applies to a large extent to congestion management in the grid and even more so to future innovative business models. The data silos that have prevailed among companies in the energy industry stand in the way of such future projects."
Cloud solution based on Microsoft Azure
Based on these strategic considerations, WWN commissioned the HORIZONTE Group to prepare a proof of concept to establish a central data platform. To find the best solution for implementation, the HORIZONTE Group, the consulting partner with overall responsibility for the redispatch project at WWN, conducted a call for tenders. Arvato Systems, an IT service provider with proven energy market expertise and experience in big data projects, scored with a cloud solution based on Microsoft Azure. The concept convinced those responsible at WWN. The data platform was set up and put into operation within four months.
"WWN extracts data from various existing commercial and technical IT systems and brings this data together on the platform," says Dr. Alexander Roth, Director Data & AI at Arvato Systems, explaining how it works. The platform consists of a data management layer and an application layer. In the data management layer, which is scalable for large volumes, inconsistencies can be detected and cleaned up by comparing the various data sets. In the application layer, the cleaned data is made available for the redispatch process and for other services.
Network operators must be able to cope with the increasing flood of data
For Dr. Alexander Roth, the platform approach is the only option for digitizing network processes in a way that is fit for the future: "In the old redispatch process, around 200 large power plants control the German transmission network. In Redispatch 2.0 and the shift of system responsibility to the medium and low-voltage network operators, the processes there are becoming much more small-scale and complex. In Germany, we are currently talking about just under 100,000 generation plants relevant to Redispatch 2.0. In the future, this number will increase to more than two million distributed generation plants that must be intelligently managed in the redispatch process. The number of master data, forecast data, and movement data increase exponentially. As a result of the Controllable Consumption Devices Act, devices on the consumer side will soon also have to be integrated into the optimization processes, further increasing the flood of data. Network operators must be able to deal with this."
A vital advantage of the cloud solution is that you can start small. That's why WWN calls it a "garage solution" that was created in the first step and can now be expanded into a "villa" as needed. "With Microsoft Azure cloud technology, you can put the services together like Lego blocks," says Dr. Alexander Roth. "There is no need for high initial investment, but you can scale successively, both functionally and performance-wise. "
Further use cases in the implementation
"Redispatch is only the first application step," emphasizes Dr. Alexander Roth. "With a central data platform, it is easier and more targeted to optimize the network and, in other use cases, to place end customers at the center of the business and offer them data-based value-added services. HORIZONTE Group and Arvato Systems are currently implementing additional use cases for WWN and further improving the level of automation. Elmar Dopp, project manager in the Redispatch 2.0 project at WWN, is convinced of the chosen path: "Using a common, optimized database throughout the company brings us advantages in every respect: fewer manual interventions due to inconsistencies, a higher degree of automation, more transparency in the network and many options for new business models.