Lithuania invests in a smart electricity grid

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FIMA has been at the heart of work to upgrade Lithuania’s electricity substations since 2010 as part of its task to replace outdated control systems with SCADA – advanced dispatching and communications systems. Upgraded substations are much more efficient than the ones that they replace and work is already underway to connect them into a single dispatching system. This will allow networks to be controlled centrally and remotely, improve the efficiency of resource distribution as well as guaranteeing the supply of power to consumers.

Introducing new technology, improving customer satisfaction and cost optimisation of the electricity grid are among LESTO’s major long-term strategic goals. LESTO is planning to invest as much as EUR 1.7 billion in the modernisation and upgrade of the distribution grid by 2025. About EUR 34 million is to be allocated for the introduction of a smart grid.

The work includes a pilot project which was implemented in 2014 to assemble nine state-of-the-art switching facilities on 10kV power lines in Klaipėda and Šiauliai. The first project of its kind in Lithuania, this hardware is unique because it can be controlled remotely and is able to restore energy supply automatically after a fault has occurred. FIMA specialists designed and installed the hardware in Klaipėda.

“These connectors are mounted on supports and it was decided to install them at sites where faults occur most often. They will ensure a more reliable supply of electricity to almost 5,000 customers in three districts of Lithuania. When a fault occurs, the connectors will automatically restore power supply to customers via a different source. Three more facilities of this type have been installed in the Vilnius district,” Virgilijus Žukauskas, the director of LESTO’s Electricity Grid Division, said.

In Klaipėda, the hardware has been integrated with the SCADA control and communications system which FIMA installed previously at LESTO’s electricity substations. “It ensures that dispatchers receive real-time alerts about faults occurring in different sections of the grid. Dispatchers are able to restore power supply through remote control as soon as LESTO’s staff repair a fault – as promptly as never before. Most household customers do not even notice faults and for those who do, power supply is restored almost instantly without them having to wait as before,” FIMA’s project manager, Valentas Titarenka, said.

According to Mr Žukauskas, the solution will undoubtedly prove useful during storms because the reliability of electricity supply is greatly dependent on weather conditions. With extreme weather events becoming more frequent, maintaining the reliability of the electricity grid – much of which dates back half a century – is an increasing challenge. The potential for expanding such a grid will be decided in the future. If the project proves to be successful, it will be expanded to other parts of Lithuania.