By: Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb Senior News Journalist.
Intelligent communication technologies will play a significant role in building the sustainable, carbon-neutral energy grids of the future, according to a white paper released by Huawei, in partnership with IDC.
The white paper, titled “On electric power communication all-optical network, accelerating digital transformation of electric power”, was released at the Huawei Sub-Saharan Africa Electric Power Summit, which formed part of Enlit Africa 2023, taking place this week in Cape Town.
The white paper aims to help Africa’s electric power industry cope with digital challenges, meet technical requirements for digital transformation and accelerate digital transformation.
As SA continues to grapple with power supply challenges, the white paper notes, in future, smart power grids will be important in managing the growing and shifting demands of electricity.
Smart grids allow two-way electricity flow, and using smart grids allows consumers to better control their energy spending.
The electrical grid that supplies electricity throughout the country consists of transmission lines, power generators, transformers, consumers and several other components.
The white paper underlines how the power communication network is the basis for automatic power grid dispatching, market-oriented network operations and modernised management. Such a network, it says, is an important means to ensure secure, stable and economical operations of the power grid, as well as the core infrastructure of the power system.
“Digital technologies are vital to leading the transition to a more sustainable energy sector,” said Victor Guo, president of Huawei Sub-Saharan Africa Enterprise Business Group.
“The white paper further describes how to build an intelligent optical base for power communication networks based on the all-optical architecture.”
Huawei also unveiled a new portfolio of solutions, to help firms operating in the electric power industry navigate various power grid scenarios.
Edwin Diender, CIO of Global Electric Power Digitalisation Business Unit, Huawei Technologies, noted: “Energy transition and digital technology combined are able to drive us towards carbon-neutrality.
“Where having a smart grid is often the end-stage for the energy industry and electric power companies, we see much more potential.”
Diender added that utilities need to embrace that digital transformation is an ongoing journey that can’t be achieved as a one-off project, or by adopting specific technologies. That journey starts with digitisation, such as switching from analogue to digital meters and moving on to building a network of smart meters.
The journey, he pointed out, ultimately results in full digital transmission – which might look like having full digital twins of every meter on the grid.
“With such aspiration, the informatisation of the power grid becomes more significant, more meaningful. And this digital journey will lead to more sustainable future power systems.
“[Huawei is] looking at capabilities from our past and seeing how they can be applied to the energy sector.”
Modernising the energy industry could also open up new revenue streams for utilities, Diender commented.
According to the white paper, the digital transformation of the electric power industry requires the power communication network to inherit the hard pipe technology used on production network services − such as supervisory control and data acquisition, security and stability, and teleprotection − to ensure high reliability and deterministic low latency of the production network.
Wenchen Wang, solution manager of transmission and access, stated Huawei, together with the upstream and downstream of the industry chain, has provided secure, stable and reliable all-optical communication network solutions for countries such as China, Thailand, Brazil, the UAE and Austria.
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