Electric cars charged in the garage at home, energy saving by means of intelligent systems and devices, online monitoring of energy consumption, residential electric grid integrated with alternative sources of energy, automatic detection and correction of power failures and cities transformed by automation and energy efficiency. These are some of the innovations which are winning market share as a result of the research and development of projects aimed at Intelligent Electrical Networks or Smart Grids.

Institutos Lactec are pioneers in research addressing the topic in the country, having carried out its first studies before the concept of smart grids had even taken shape, at start of the 2000s.

These have been years of studies and development with emphasis on electrics and electronics, focusing on five main areas:

  • Smart Metering: The Institutos Lactec have developed electronic power meters with advanced functions such as remote cut-off and reconnection of loads, tele-measurement with survey of demand (for composition of load curve of the consumer unit) and direct interaction with consumers, enabling the verification of the consumption in real time. In their Smart Metering project, the Institutos Lactec have already used Power Line Communication (PLC) systems, Mesh network, including the ZigBee technology, and cellular telephony networks. In addition to the meters, the Institutos Lactec have developed complete solutions of AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure), which includes all the communication to the power company, the databases and software for management of metering.
  • Distributed Generation: The Institutos Lactec have already developed and are developing various projects in the area of Distributed Generation, which includes systems of connection, supervision, and protection of generators for LV (low voltage), such as solar panels and mini wind generators. They have also developed compact versions of protection relays for connection of the Distributed Generation to the low-voltage network for monitoring of the quality of the electricity for application in this area.
  • Automation of networks: We carry out projects on systems of remote units for automation of substations and network equipment, as well as algorithms for automatic reconfiguration (self-healing) and selective load curtailment. These solutions are aimed at the maintenance of power to the greatest number of consumers possible during a failure or overload. We also carry out work in the area of Demand-Side Management for work on the suppliers’ load curve, so as to optimize its use and make it flatter. We also develop methodologies for improving utilization of network automation equipment, aiming to maximize their potential against power failures.
  • Electric Vehicles: The Institutos Lactec have a Batteries Laboratory which is recognized by the Brazilian metrological bodies. Researchers specialized in electric vehicles work there and do consulting work for electric vehicle projects in Brazil. The Institutos Lactec have also developed various versions of electric stations for connection of EV’s to the electric grid with a power billing solution by smart card. They have also carried out studies of the impact of the connection of electric vehicles on the electric grid.
  • Telecommunications: One of the bases of the intelligent networks depends on a robust system of communication which enables the sending of the data of the network, obeying the different requirements of speed and reliability. On this topic, the Institutos Lactec carry out projects utilizing various technologies such as PLC (communication through the electric network), Ethernet, and Radio Frequency (wireless) such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, cellular telephony network (GPRS, 3G) and ZigBee, with emphasis on the latter, in which the Institutos Lactec master the use of the technology, of both the radios and their logical stack.

These are some of the R&D projects already carried out by our researchers:

  • L1) Development of an intelligent networks platform, integrating systems of power metering and automation of distribution networks, utilizing digital certification and creating interoperability to support the Smart Grid program;
  • L2) Development of a real-time management system for an underground distribution network, through monitoring, diagnostics, and reconfiguration, within the platform and concepts of the Smart Grid program;
  • L3) Aerial Network Management System, considering Failure Management and Re-establishment, Insertion of DGs and Operation in Islanded Mode integrated with the platform and concepts of the Smart Grid (SG) Program.
  • L4) System for demand-side energy management associated with other services, promoting the socialization of the efficient consumption through the use of interactive multimedia channels integrated with the Platform and Concepts of the Smart Grid Program;
  • L5) Development of an intelligent management system for renewable sources, distributed storage, and rechargeable electric vehicles integrated with the concepts of the Smart Grid program;
  • Communication solution for smart grid utilizing mesh network technologies;
  • PD141) Cycle 2 – Automation System of Telemetering of Electricity with Control of Demand about the Consumer and Monitoring of Low-Voltage Power Failure