(Frankfurt a. M., 03.07.2023) The grid and electricity industry is facing major challenges. The pace and volume of RE expansion is pushing traditional grid expansion to its limits. Long planning and construction periods, bureaucratic and regulatory hurdles, and not least the lack of specialists require new approaches and technologies. A task force of the Power Engineering Society within VDE (VDE ETG) has therefore looked into the extent to which the concept of the digital twin, which originated in the field of Industry 4.0 (I4.0), could provide a remedy here. With the study "Der Digitale Zwilling in der Netz- und Elektrizitätswirtschaft (DZiNE)" (“The Digital Twin in the Grid and Electricity Industry”) now presented, the experts from VDE ETG show: The digital twin will be a very important building block in the grid and electricity industry for greater efficiency and productivity as well as higher data quality and better control options for the grids and processes.
Increased demands on power grids due to energy transition
This is because the increased and new demands placed on power grids require intelligent and interconnected solutions in order to uncover existing reserves and use them safely. Today, this is often confronted with non-existent or outdated plant documentation, manual processes, data silos and redundant databases, insufficient data in poor quality, and a multitude of systems and interfaces that are not coordinated with each other. Working according to Industry 4.0 methods with solution approaches such as the "Der Digitale Zwilling in der Netz- und Elektrizitätswirtschaft (DZiNE)" (“Digital Twin in the Network and Electricity Industry”) presented here comes into play precisely at this point. This digital model of a real object, networked according to I4.0 methodology, forms the data basis for end-to-end, data-driven processes from planning through operation to dismantling.
Data silos must be broken down
In the study, the often very abstract concept of the digital twin is first concretized. For this purpose, a reference architecture for the grid and electricity industry as well as various practical use cases and examples are presented. The latter are analyzed in terms of the added value created over the life cycle of electrical equipment and plants and qualitatively evaluated in terms of costs, quality, duration, risk and challenges.
Great importance is attached in the study to the recommendations for action on how network operators, energy suppliers and manufacturers can implement the innovations in this area in a target-oriented manner. The core task will be to break down data silos, validate and merge data, and implement initial digital twins for specific use cases.
The ETG study "Der Digitale Zwilling in der Netz- und Elektrizitätswirtschaft (DZiNE)" (“The Digital Twin in the Grid and Electricity Industry”) can be downloaded here free of charge (German version).