State Grid Shandong Electric Power Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), has long been committed to the planning, investment, construction, and operations of power grids in Shandong Province. It has been named a model subsidiary of SGCC for its efforts to carry out large-scale 5G application, and for its work towards achieving China's carbon peaking and carbon neutrality goals, which are also known as the "dual carbon" goals.
State Grid Shandong is facing two major challenges. First, Shandong has a myriad of PV power generation plants, which are scattered across the province, making it difficult to monitor them. Second, Shandong has the largest ultra high voltage AC/DC hybrid power grids in China and needs emerging information and communication technologies such as big data, cloud, IoT, mobile Internet, AI, and blockchain to guarantee the secure and stable running of these power grids. State Grid Shandong's solution to these challenges has been to join forces with China Unicom and Huawei to build China's first provincial 5G power model network. In the future, this network will also serve as a replicable example for promoting 5G applications in the electric power industry.
Typical 5G Application Scenarios in the Electric Power Industry
This 5G application solution can be applied to scenarios including electric power generation, transmission, transformation, distribution, consumption, and onsite operations. It promotes large-scale 5G application in the electric power industry and facilitates the construction of new electric power systems.
·Distributed PV plant: Distributed PV plants connect to 5G network slices through RTUs and PV inverters and access the master station for grid scheduling, making these plants visible, measurable, and controllable. This greatly increases the consumption of renewable energy. The 5G network has connected more than 200 local power plants that were not being monitored before. The installed monitoring capacity can reach 5.66 million kW and this has improved the production efficiency of the power plants.
·Drone transmission line inspection: Drones upload HD videos to the intelligent diagnosis cloud platform in real time over the 5G network. Then the BeiDou satellite system and AI technologies are used to accurately locate and identify defects. This method improves the defect identification rate and increases the inspection efficiency of transmission lines.
·Power distribution automation: Power distribution automation devices connect to 5G virtual private network slices to implement fast, local, and precise fault isolation on power distribution lines and to recover power supply in seconds. With the help of the 5G network, smart terminals in power distribution areas implement functions such as automatic topology analysis, imbalance analysis, line loss calculation, energy control, and precise load control to balance power supply and demand and facilitate power utilization.
·Field work: Robots powered by 5G and AI technologies can monitor device running, operation violations, and environment irregularities, which enhances onsite security and quality management. Currently, the company has mobilized 47 types of 5G robots. They are controlled remotely as they perform live-line operations, and this ensures the safety of the personnel.
A 5G Application Solution for the Electric Power Industry
China Unicom has built a unified 5G multi-campus private network for SGCC, which covers 37 sets of exclusive private network UPF devices, more than 70,000 5G power terminals, and over 160,000 base stations across the province. This network includes a holistic 5G application solution in its network, platform, and user data designs.
In terms of networks, the operator takes advantage of 5G slicing to create different network slices for power generation, management information, and customer service. Multiple campuses using the same slice are interconnected, while different slices are securely isolated to ensure power service security. The power generation service uses hard slicing, which allows 17 municipal power companies to build their own private networks. Dedicated UPF devices for electric power services have been deployed in municipal areas. The management information slice has been established on the operator networks. Three UPF devices have been deployed in the province, and a hybrid private network is established to carry the electric power network throughout the province. The customer service slice, which is a soft slice, is shared on the operator's UPF devices to form a virtual private network.
With respect to the platform designs, SGCC has built a 5G power virtual private network management platform, which interconnects with China Unicom's intensive operation management platform for unified O&M. The platform provides functions such as slice provisioning, slice monitoring, 5G card application, fee management, 5G core NE management, service process management, and network panorama visualization. These functions are used to process online services, monitor networks, and manage terminals in real time. In addition, the dedicated and hybrid private networks support the grayscale update of devices, which ensures the secure and fast rollout of innovative electric power applications.
Economic, Environmental and Social Benefits
·Economic benefits: This solution uses 5G communication terminals to connect to the power virtual private networks, which greatly reduces optical cable costs. Shandong Province has made 5G accessible in more than 30,000 power distribution areas, which has saved approximately CNY195 million in optical cable investment.
·Environmental benefits: The 5G power virtual private networks improve the energy scheduling and consumption of local power stations and PV plants. They also facilitate energy load management for electric vehicles, and support source-grid-load-storage synergy and the construction of new power systems. This solution makes energy transitions smoother and helps meet the "dual-carbon" goals.
·Social benefits: The success of this project has inspired further development of the 5G industry chain. This project serves as a reference for 5G applications in various industries. China Unicom's self-developed 5G lightweight modules have also helped to resolve key issues in the 5G industry and drive further 5G development.
During this project, SGCC and China Unicom worked together to innovate and develop ways to make the most of 5G technologies in building new power systems. By using a business model based on co-construction and sharing, the two companies have succeeded in demonstrating how 5G can be applied to the electric power industry and across many other industries. This project showcases the in-depth integration of 5G technologies into the electric power industry to deliver differentiated capabilities, such as 5G flexible networking modes for the electric power digital architecture, and 5G network slicing for security isolation of electric power services. SGCC will continue to publicize the success of this project at its provincial branches and will deploy a total of 500,000 5G communication terminals to support the construction of new power systems.
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