Reliable Wireless Sensor Networks for Future Smart Grid Systems

Energy technologies are of particular importance to the world at large. It is a key driver of the any country’s development and economic growth. Nigeria with a population of over 170 million people can only boast of about 4,500MW generated, and that was briefly, not on a continuous basis. While the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has power generation for the year 2023 estimated at 59,000 megawatts compared with 25,000 megawatts generated in 2001. Furthermore, the electricity sector in the Kingdom faces great challenges in fulfilling the rising demand for electricity consumption that is the foundation for economic and social development. Attempts to find scientific solutions to keep pace with this growing demand in the world at large will necessitate technology transfer and the development of technologies to improve electrical energy generation, transmission, distribution, and utilization.

DrIn today’ s competitive electric utility marketplace in the world, reliable and real-time information become the key factor for reliable delivery of power to the end-users, profitability of the electric utility and customer satisfaction. Equipment failures, generation capacity limitations, lightning strikes, accidents, and natural catastrophes all cause power disturbances and outages and often result in long service interruptions. Given the increasing age of utility grid infrastructure and the increasing electricity demand, intelligent and low-cost utility monitoring and control systems realized by smart micro-sensor devices have become essential to maintain safety, reliability, efficiency, and uptime of such systems. With the evolution of new sensors, embedded intelligence capabilities, and communication platforms, opportunities exist for the development and design of robust and intelligent sensor networks that enable the smart grid applications, such as automatic meter reading, remote system monitoring and control, equipment fault diagnostics, and distribution automation.

Importantly, all these applications would lead to new products, processes and services, improving industrial efficiency and use of sustainable energy resources while providing a competitive edge for the world in the global market place. At the same time, it would ensure the reliability of the electric power infrastructure, helping to improve the daily lives of ordinary citizens. All this makes low cost sensor-network based electric power grid monitoring and control an important element for achieving the largest knowledge-based economy in the world.

With its low cost as one of the main advantages, the WSNs provide a feasible and cost-effective sensing and communication solution for the remote system monitoring and diagnostic systems for electric power grid. Efficient monitoring systems constructed by large-scale deployment of smart sensor nodes can provide complete information on the conditions of system components, including generation units, transformers, transmission lines, etc., in a remote, continuous, and online manner. With the real-time system monitoring and system level coordinating controls and protections, a single system contingency in the electric power grid could be detected and isolated, before it causes cascading effects and results more catastrophic system breakdowns.

Overall, this potential research proposal lead by the Advanced Wireless Networking Group of the King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia opens up many theoretical and practical research possibilities in wireless sensor networks and their applications to electric power systems.

Unlike existing work, the proposed Spectrum-Aware and Cross-Layer Communication (SCC) framework will consider all the unique channel characteristics of harsh electric power system environments simultaneously, while dynamically adapting its protocol configurations.

Further reading can be found in the Publications

1. C. Eris, M. Saimler, V. C. Gungor, E. A. Fadel, I. F. Akyildiz “Lifetime analysis of wireless sensor nodes in different smart grid environments”, ACM-Springer Journal of Wireless Networks (WINET), pp. 2053-2062, 2014. [ACM Link]

2. Gutierrez-Estevez, D. M., Akyildiz, I. F., and Fadel E. A. “Spatial Coverage Cross-Tier Correlation Analysis for Heterogeneous Cellular Networks”, IEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technology, vol.63, no.8, pp. 3917-3926, October 2014. [PDF]

3. Melike Yigit, V. Cagri Gungor, Gurkan Tuna, Maria Rangoussi, Etimad Fadel “Power line communication technologies for smart grid applications: A review of advances and challenges”, Computer Networks, Vol. 70, pp. 366–383, September 2014. [Science Direct Link]