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Wide-area Monitoring and Control of Smart Grid


Without ubiquitous, accurate, and reliable real-time sensors, the electric grid will not have the resiliency, reliability, and capacity to manage the unprecedented number of variable renewable energy sources and millions of intelligent devices and systems. Rapid deployment of new sensors in the smart grid is not possible at present because of the need for better sensor measurements; inability of the infrastructure to accommodate large real-time data flows; and lack of interoperability among sensors and systems. This project extends the capabilities of the NIST synchrometrology and smart grid testbeds for phasor measurement unit (PMU) testing under real-world conditions, to enable new test standards, and improved PMUs, phasor data concentrators (PDCs), and sensors. This will accelerate the smart grid goals of high penetration of renewables, increased grid capacity, all with greater reliability and resiliency.


Objective -  To enable wide-area monitoring and control of the smart grid by accelerating the development/deployment of advanced sensors and measurement systems; to develop conformance and interoperability tests for new standards for these devices; and to develop a sensor network interface specification.

What is the new technical idea? This project proposes to characterize sensors in environments that realistically emulate real-world operating conditions. Tests and performance requirements will be developed which characterize advanced sensors and measurement systems that are the most demanding – in particular for dynamically changing conditions, rather than the steady-state tests that have been primarily used to date. Novel sensors, including optical and clamp-on sensors will be evaluated for measurement performance.


What is the research plan? With the advanced PMU testing capabilities, NIST has begun the testing of commercial PMUs from more than 6 vendors. NIST will determine practical performance metrics based on these results and make recommendations to the appropriate standards working groups for changes as needed. Testing will be also done on new devices that use advanced communications such as International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 61850, particularly to support American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funded projects.

Guided by a NIST-initiated study of industry critical needs for advanced smart grid sensor measurements, NIST will establish research in performance testing and communication standards for advanced sensors, including optical, clamp-on line, and other smart grid sensors for monitoring power equipment condition and operating conditions. Sensor characterization capabilities identified in this study will be added to the NIST synchrometrology and smart grid testbeds. Recommendations and technical inputs such as performance requirements, test protocols, and certification approaches will be provided to the relevant standards organizations for inclusion in sensor and equipment monitoring standards.

Major Accomplishments:

Realized Impact:

  • IEEE- Phasor Measurement Units (PMU) synchrometrology laboratory, measurement service, and test tools