The preparation for the grid of the future is one of pillars to achieve TNB’s target of being among world’s top 10 utilities by 2025 Energy transition with TNB’s ‘grid of the future’
by FAREZZA HANUM RASHID / pics courtesy: TNB
TENAGA Nasional Bhd (TNB) will continue to prioritise investing in modernising the national grid into the “grid of the future” — a smart grid which remains reliable, resilient, smart with digital technology and flexible in meeting the country’s needs for energy transition.
In line with the goal to shift from using fuel to 31% of renewable energy (RE) by 2025, the national grid must be ready to receive RE to support dynamic two-way energy flow, while maintaining voltage stability.
Thus, under the Incentive-Based Regulatory (IBR) framework, TNB planned to invest RM9 billion a year from 2021 to 2024, subject to government approval, to continue to develop the grid of the future into a key enabler of energy transition.
This will be done by connecting the entire value chain from generation to delivery and distribution to the customers’ premises.
Consumers actually have already been enjoying the grid of the future in recent years through TNB’s capital investment, as well as under IBR.
Among them are distribution automation (DA), the use of the geospatial information system (GIS) and an advanced metering infrastructure with a resilient grid system equipped with cyber security. All of these features have been adopted by energy utilities worldwide.
These initiatives started with TNB’s transformation programme, Reimagining TNB (RT), since 2016.
The preparation for the grid of the future was one of the four main pillars of RT to achieve TNB’s target of being among the top 10 utilities in the world by 2025.
Nevertheless, TNB chief grid officer Datuk Husaini Husin said the company must continue investing to ensure a more consistent and flexible grid that can receive other sources, especially RE, such as solar which is growing with more consumers becoming prosumers.
He said currently, the country’s electricity supply is not only worldclass, but even better than some developed countries, including in Europe.
In the transmission system minutes — which measure the minutes of interference due to high voltage each year — TNB recorded a reduction to 0.08 minute last year, its 12 consecutive years below the two-minute level.
This is a superior achievement in South-East Asia and in the world.
For comparison, Eskom Africa recorded 3.16 minutes in 2019, TransGrid Australia 0.25 minute in 2019 and Finland’s Fingrid Oyj 0.15 minute in 2020.
However, strengthening the grid system alone is not enough.
Digital technology ingenuity is also used to complete the aspirations of the grid of the future and a comprehensive strategy called the Digital Transformation Grid Programme has been formulated.
It focuses on digital development on four basic thrusts namely assets, employees, systems and innovation.
A total of 55 digital initiatives are actively undertaken under the programme and spearheaded by control tower, which is a new function created to ensure the digital grid transformation journey is implemented effectively, while maximising the return on investment made in line with RT’s aspirations.
The System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI) has dropped consistently below the 60-minute mark since 2014 to reach 44.95 minutes last year.
SAIDI is the global energy industry’s method of measuring the average length of time consumers spend when a supply disruption occurs in a year.
This achievement places TNB at the world-class position for the SAIDI Country category, after South Korea’s Kepco (8.31 minutes) and Brunei’s DES (34 minutes).
SAIDI for developed countries such as France’s Enedis is 64.2 minutes, while Italy’s Enel recorded 49 minutes.
This is one of the progresses achieved through investment in the DA system installation to accelerate supply recovery, which to date has involved 17,965 of the more than 85,000 distribution substations across the Peninsular Malaysia.
TNB chief distribution network officer Wan Nazmy Wan Mahmood said the company has targeted to implement DA on 49% of its distribution substations by 2025 in the distribution network modernisation programme to support the grid of the future.
DA allowed the recovery of supply disruptions to distribution substations within 15 minutes and could even be as fast as five minutes compared to 120 minutes before its implementation based on 2014 data.
It is facilitated by faster detection of disturbances through the use of GIS which accurately mapped TNB assets, such as underground cables.
Its efficiency is enhanced through increased employee productivity in the field using digital solutions.
Equipped with advanced distribution management system, which allows the grid to self-heal, it can isolate network faults automatically and make automated recovery as well by changing the supply flow.
To maintain voltage stability, Volt-VAR Optimisation is also implemented.
These are five of the seven initiatives actively implemented by TNB throughout the peninsula, while five more initiatives will be carried out to complete the Smart Utility Programme in line with TNB’s reimagining transformation.
All these efforts became more effective when customer participation is strengthened through the installation of smart metres, which have reached more than 1.2 million in Melaka and the Klang Valley.
It allows customers to control their energy consumption through daily data monitoring on the myTNB web portal and application.
“The results of this massive investment can be assessed by the benchmark Smart Grid Index (SGI) 2020, with TNB getting 62.5%, second place in Asean behind Singapore’s SP Group (75%).
“TNB’s aspiration is to reach 85% by 2025 to be among the top 20 utilities in the SGI World Ranking,” Wan Nazmy said.
SGI is a worldwide smart grid energy utility achievement level measurement initiator based on seven key dimensions, namely customer satisfaction and empowerment, security, green energy, monitoring and control, data analysis, supply reliability and RE integration.
Wan Nazmy added that the implementation of various programmes for the smart grid could contribute to the country’s economic development.
“The implementation of these programmes aims to stimulate the country’s economic growth, develop the green energy sector, accelerate the knowledge-based economy and create various employment opportunities.
“It will also support the national agenda to move towards a low-carbon economy, as well as drive the aspirations of Industrial Revolution 4.0 by developing the capabilities and skills of suppliers,” he concluded.