The evolution of SCADA/EMS/GMS

Managing the world’s power networks

Power networks are complex systems that cannot be efficiently and securely operated without an energy management system. As our networks evolve into smart grids, accommodating growing volumes of renewable power, management systems will play an increasingly important role. ABB is the global leader in energy and generation management systems with more than 5,000 installations worldwide - more than any other company.

SCADA/EMS/GMS (supervisory control and data acquisition/Energy Management System/Generation Management System) supervises, controls, optimizes and manages generation and transmission systems. SCADA/DMS (Distribution Management System) performs the same functions for power distribution networks.

Both systems enable utilities to collect, store and analyze data from hundreds of thousands of data points in national or regional networks, perform network modeling, simulate power operation, pinpoint faults, preempt outages, and participate in energy trading markets.

The systems are a vital part of modern power networks and are enabling the development of smart grids, the highly automated energy systems of the future. Smart grids will need to handle large quantities of renewable power from both large and small-scale generators. To maintain grid stability in spite of these potentially distruptive source of power and the two-way flow of power in what is currently a one-way system, ABB's advanced moitoring systems will be very important.

Computerized control
Although the roots of power control go back to the 1920s when ABB supplied its first remote control system for a power plant, it was not until the 1960s and the advent of computerized process control that modern power network control systems as we know them today became possible.

Most SCADA/EMS/GMS systems at that time were designed exclusively for a single customer. Power systems were vulnerable, and there was a need to develop applications and tools for preventing faults from developing into large-scale outages like the New York blackout of 1977.

In the 1980s it became possible to model large-scale distribution networks in a standardized way. A key project that mirrored this achievement was ABB’s integration of the generation, transmission and distribution networks in Bogotá, Colombia.

Deregulation and cross-border interconnection
The deregulation and privatization of the power industry that began in the 1990s was the biggest structural change in the industry’s history. Specialization became increasingly common, with many utilities focusing on either generation, transmission or distribution.

At the same time the need to interconnect national or regional power systems brought new requirements for cross-border control systems. Energy trading systems were required to enable independent system operators (ISO), such as those for California and New York, to operate real-time markets for energy trading.

With specialization now the norm, the needs of power operators were beginning to differ:
Generation companies needed an interface with the energy trading markets, and the capability to plan and optimize supply to meet spot market demand;
transmission companies required advanced systems to manage their high voltage networks and prevent a fault in one part of the system from cascading across the entire network;
and distribution operators needed to take network management down to the level of individual customer connection points (often numbering several million) to minimize customer outage times.


ABB's network management and utility communication systems enable data, voice, video and protection signaling and other types of critical information to be communicated quickly, reliably and securely. And they are crucial to any smart grid solution of the future. ABB is the world’s leading supplier of network management and utility communications solutions
Among the hundreds of groundbreaking solutions that ABB has provided all over the world are the following:

Integrating transmission and distribution networks into a single system
Karnataka is India’s fastest growing state and its capital, Bangalore, is an international hub for the global IT and biotechnology industries. In 2009 ABB delivered a solution that integrates the state’s power transmission and distribution systems and energy audit and energy billing systems into a single state-of-the-art platform. The solution monitors the power network of the entire state, provides accurate and real-time information on power supply and revenues, and enables operators to identify and correct faults quickly.

Managing one of the world’s largest energy markets
ABB has supplied many of the world’s energy trading systems – in California, Ontario, China, Singapore, Korea, Australia, the Philippines, to name a few. The solution for New York has been in operation since 2005 and is one of the world’s largest, enabling the New York Independent System Operator to operate a highly complex and congested power system. Electricity worth about $12 billion is traded annually using the ABB system, which is recognized as the international benchmark for the entire industry.

Improving the efficiency and reliability of the U.K. power grid
Cable & Wireless, one of the world’s leading communications companies, recently selected ABB to supply a range of utility communications solutions to improve the control, efficiency and reliability of the U.K. power grid. These solutions will interconnect 410 high-voltage substations throughout the U.K. and enable data from different mission-critical applications to be combined into a converged communication network – all managed by a communication network management system provided by ABB.

Improving operator efficiency by 50 percent
A single network manager solution for E.ON’s geographically fragmented distribution systems in Sweden boosted operator efficiency by 50 percent and dramatically improved customer satisfaction. The solution replaced 19 existing SCADA systems with a seamlessly integrated system for the distribution networks and outage management systems, as well as the enterprise resource planning and geographical information systems.

Enabling the smart grids of the future
Network management is a prerequisite for any smart grid of the future. These grids will have to incorporate and manage centralized and distributed power generation, intermittent sources of renewable energy like wind and solar power, allow consumers to become producers and export their excess power, enable multi-directional power flow from many different sources, and integrate real-time pricing and load management data. ABB has long been in the vanguard of smart grid development, and is currently involved in numerous projects all over the world to evolve existing power networks into smarter networks.

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