Power distribution systems are facing two main challenges, according to the delegates at CIRED 2013 in June. First of all, electric utilities are striving to improve maintenance and replacement policies, and secondly, they are trying to adapt to the evolution of smart grids. More than 1,100 delegates from 56 countries discussed these challenges and other issues related to electricity distribution at the four-day conference in Stockholm, Sweden. The event featured an opening forum, six main sessions, six poster sessions with guided tours, 14 roundtable discussion events, five research and innovation forums, six tutorials and an exhibition.

Smart Grids and Power Quality

The opening session highlighted the different roles of distribution companies and presented the final report of CIRED Working Group Smart Grids. This session dealt with all aspects of the components used in the electricity distribution networks. The topics included the aging of network components, diagnostic and monitoring, return from field experience, retrofit and maintenance strategies, innovative network components for smart grids and innovation in network components. Three roundtable discussions regarding new components for voltage regulation, new secondary substation, and partial discharge and online cable monitoring also took place.

Next, the delegates discussed power quality and electromagnetic compatibility. Specifically, they learned about electric and magnetic fields, earthing systems and harmonics issues such as voltage profile, fluctuation, unbalance and dips. Another group discussed reliability, power quality monitoring, regulation and economic aspects. At two roundtables, the target of quality regulation based on the CEER report and best practice of power quality monitoring were discussed. High-frequency phenomena and related electromagnetic compatibility issues turned out to be one of the upcoming topics.

The third session received and accepted the highest number of papers, and as such, CIRED allocated each of the three topics on operation, control and protection into a separate block. The operation block covered thermal rating of overhead lines and blackout prevention, control dealt with cyber security and the IEC 61850 standard, and the protection block included topics such as fault location and neutral grounding. The roundtable discussion investigated new protection schemes for grids with decentralized generation.

Energy Efficiency, System Planning and Regulation

Another integral part of the conference was a discussion on distributed energy resources (DER) and energy efficiency. The first block focused on DER planning and studies, the second block looked at DER operation and control, the third block contained customer-side reaction and developments, and the final block zoned in on technology. Session managers were impressed by the quality of the 118 presented papers, which covered broad ranges of many topics relating to DER and efficiency utilization of electrical energy. The two roundtables were related to design for the long term and operating in the new paradigm of DER.

The delegates also learned about planning and system development. During the fifth session, papers covered risk assessment and assessment management, network development, distribution planning, and methods and tools. Two roundtables focused on smart data management for network planning purposes, and joint simulation of cyber infrastructure and power systems for smart grid planning and operation studies.

The final session dealt with the electricity marketplace and the impact of regulation. The delegates discussed activating the customer, the regulation and market development, distribution system operation business and smart grid projects. Four roundtable discussions also contemplated future regulation for investment and development, European network codes, further smart grid experience and international road maps, and also customer behavior and their electric appliances as drivers to smart homes and sustainable energy.

Poster Sessions and Technical Visits

The poster sessions with guided tours enabled discussion in small groups with the authors. At the end of the conference, delegates could visit a waste incineration plant at Uppsala, a production and research site and high-voltage test lab in Västeras and Fortum, secondary and primary substations, an urban smart grid research program and the Vattenfall head office “Green Building” in Stockholm.

By coming together, delegates were able to discuss the challenges and opportunities of electric distribution worldwide and get a glimpse of what is ahead for the power industry.


Herbert Haidvogl (herbert.haidvogl@evn-netz.at) is past chairman of the directing committee of CIRED and manager of EVN Netz GmbH, Austria.

Editor’s note: Visit www.cired.net to download papers from CIRED 2013. The 2014 workshop will be in Rome, Italy, and the 2015 conference will be in Lyon, France.