CREOS Luxembourg S.A. is the main electricity transmission and distribution operator in Luxembourg; it owns and runs circa 9,300km of power lines and 1,911km of natural gas pipelines, as well as nearly 245,000 electricity customers and approximately 45,000 customers connected to natural gas. CREOS employs over 650 people.
CREOS' legacy mobile voice network, which was mainly used during power failures, had become obsolete and needed to be replaced. The operator decided to develop a telecoms backbone network, based on surface and underground optical fibre, to connect 50 High Voltage (HV) substations to a variety of key locations. The new network delivers operational telecoms services (such as SCADA) to support the management of its infrastructure, alongside voice services providing mission-critical communications to field staff and network control rooms. The Medium Voltage (MV) electrical grid currently consists of approximately 2,600 MV substations of which only 198 are connected to the telecoms network.
In recent years, utilisation of electrical energy has exponentially increased and customer requirements and quality definitions of power have undergone remarkable changes. As electrical energy has become an essential part of daily life, its optimal usage and reliability have also become increasingly important. Real-time network visibility and dynamic decisions have become instrumental to the optimisation of resources and energy demand management.
CREOS is facing a number of drivers for change - based on market regulation, consumer demand and changes to the electricity distribution - which will impact current and future business. Such drivers have recently led the Luxembourg operator to identify the necessary steps to move towards a smart grid infrastructure and more advanced electricity demand management applications in order to monitor and control the electricity supply. In particular, CREOS recognised that it will become increasingly challenging to predict and manage consumer demand.
CREOS' smart metering roll-out is expected to start in 2015 and to achieve 95% completion by 2018 (electricity) and 2020 (gas); smart metering will not only enable customers to reduce their energy consumption, it will also give CREOS good visibility of the low voltage grid in addition to the already complete visibility of the high voltage grid provided by the telecom backbone. The deployment of Sepura's TETRA infrastructure and TETRA Remote Terminal Units (RTU) modems will also enable CREOS to make the medium voltage grid accessible for supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) and drastically decrease outage times.
Sepura has started delivering for CREOS a complete communication solution comprising a TETRA infrastructure to cover an area of 2.586 km², TETRA radio terminals for voice communications, 2,850 RTUs for SCADA control for implementation in the medium voltage substations.
Further to thorough planning and detailed design specifications Sepura identified the requirement for 55 base stations plus a number of STP9000 hand-portables and SRG3900 mobile gateway TETRA radios which are being mainly used by the CREOS maintenance teams for voice communications. In addition, thanks to Sepura's efficient planning, CREOS' infrastructure Factory Acceptance Tests took place in a record time of just over three months after contract signature; the infrastructure roll-out started in the beginning of 2014.
The 2,850 RTUs will be used to manage the electricity and gas networks controlled by SCADA, and these will ensure uptimes via the resilient Sepura TETRA infrastructure even during power failures. A first step will be the acquisition of basic data from the medium voltage substations in order to gain better visibility of the medium voltage grid, identify potential problems and, subsequently, decide which medium voltage substations should also feature a remote control capability. The project will be completed by the end of 2022.
Massimo Gotti, Worldwide Systems Sales Director for Sepura comments: "We believe that CREOS chose to partner with Sepura as we demonstrated deep understanding of their requirements from the start. CREOS praised us for our flexibility, fast decision processes and responsiveness from senior management and was particularly impressed with our network planning which required less base stations than those proposed by the competition. In addition, the ruggedness and robustness of our TETRA terminals, the availability of some of the most advanced RTU modems and our proven experience in project and risk management methodologies were also powerful influencing factors".