What are Grid Enhancing Technologies?

Three technologies can transform the way the grid operates, enabling a reliable energy transition at least cost.

How do they work? Intuitively, GETs have parallels to traffic control. 

Dynamic Line Ratings

Imagine you’re in traffic: Installing Dynamic Line Ratings is like discovering an express lane on the highway that you use to commute – that thoroughfare has a much higher safe transfer capacity than you realized, almost all the time. 

How they really work: Wires carrying electricity generate heat – if they get too hot, they start to soften. Out of the factory, transmission lines are given static thermal ratings which assume hot, sunny, still conditions to prevent lines from overheating. Dynamic line ratings measure the true conditions to calculate the safe capacity of the lines. On cold or windy days, power lines can easily deliver 50% or more energy than their labeled limits. 

Advanced Power Flow Control

Imagine you’re in traffic: Advanced Power Flow Control is like a traffic director, actively changing traffic flows by rerouting drivers away from congested areas to roads where there is extra capacity for vehicles to travel. 

How it really works: The grid is a mesh network, with lines crisscrossing the country and loading and unloading power at substations. Automatically, power flows along the path of least resistance through this network, with generation and demand creating a push and pull affect. Advanced Power Flow Control devices push and pull power as well, by automatically or manually adjusting the impedance, or total resistance, of a power pathway.  

Before Power Flow Control

With Power Flow Control

Topology Optimization

Imagine you’re in traffic: Topology Optimization is like Waze, which uses the mesh of road networks to find the best route based on real-time data. The same is possible on the grid, with different configurations maximizing transfer capacity from the generation sources to the demand centers in cities and industrial areas.

How it really works: The laws of physics are simple, but the grid’s network is complicated. Topology Optimization software combines generation, demand and the status of grid infrastructure to evaluate the best use of network and determine how to re-route power. In the illustrative example below, turning off one power line redistributes power more evenly over the other lines. To implement Topology Optimization, a system operator or transmission owner licenses software or secures a service that determines optimal topologies and implements the solutions with existing hardware.