Sensor network metrology for the determination of electrical grid characteristics

Short Name: GridSens, Project Number: ENG63

Sensor network metrology: Improving the monitoring of electrical distribution grids

Smart Grids could unlock further expansion of renewable generation capacity, enabling the control of what will be more distributed and complex networks. Localised generation demands two-way flows of current, necessitating careful management to maintain grid stability. Billing data and network control will also be expected to be handled in new ‘smart’ ways. Sensors are used to measure network current, voltage and frequency, with this data aggregated to form a view of the overall network ‘state’. However, distributed generation will need distributed sensor deployments. Methods to decide on the best places to site sensors are needed for accurate estimations of grid state, and interoperability with pan-European smart grids is expected to add further cyber-security requirements.


This project applied mathematical and measurement methods to develop cost-effective and secure ways to apply sensors to monitoring and control of smart grids. Methods for optimising sensor placement, a measurement framework for Phasor Measurement Units (PMUs), state estimation using smart meter data, and strong cyber-security measures were each investigated to improve network management.


The Project:

  • Developed algorithms that provided improved network state estimation and sensor placement, tested on simulated and actual distribution networks, enabling effective grid monitoring and control.
  • Developed a sensor placement algorithm to optimise PMUs for grid monitoring, providing significantly reduced uncertainty, and cost-effective state estimation.
  • Refined and tested algorithms to provide network structure estimations, found effective at recovering unknown connections in networks.
  • Demonstrated cost-effective determination of grid power flows using smart meter data.
  • Tested a secure communication system, designed to protect grid measurement systems from cyber threats.


Delivering impact
The open-source software developed for secure data exchange has been published for re-use and inspection to an open repository, that has received regular visits and downloads. This and other secure data exchange outputs of the project led to the creation of the European Metrology Cloud, a PTB initiative promoting a pan- European IT infrastructure for Legal Metrology.


The expertise built in the project and connections made with industry also helped pave the way to the formation of EURAMET’s European Metrology Network on Smart Grids. This network of NMIs and stakeholders will enable high-level coordination of impacts from Research and Development activities.


As a result of this project, grid operators will be able to apply sensor networks for improved visibility of their grids performance enabling the planning of strategies for Smart Grid operation. This will help integrate renewable energy generation into existing networks while maintaining stable, high-quality power supplies, thus removing a barrier to investments in renewable electricity generation capacity.


Coordinator: Paul Clarkson, NPL (UK)


For more information, please contact the EURAMET Management Support Unit:
Phone: +44 20 8943 6666

Project website
A note on computing the smallest conic singular value

Journal of Computational and Applied Mathematics

Validation of Algorithms to Estimate Distribution Network Characteristics Using Power-Hardware-in-the-Loop Configuration

2017 IEEE International Workshop on Applied Measurements for Power Systems (AMPS)

Uncertainty Analysis of Aggregated Smart Meter Data for State Estimation

2016 IEEE International Workshop on Applied Measurements for Power Systems (AMPS)

Measurement of the harmonic impedance of the aggregated distribution network

2016 17th International Conference on Harmonics and Quality of Power (ICHQP)

Application of non-intrusive polynomial chaos expansion in probabilistic power flow with truncated random variables

2016 International Conference on Probabilistic Methods Applied to Power Systems (PMAPS)

Testing and validation of an algorithm for configuring distribution grid sensor networks

23rd International Conference on Electricity Distribution

Other Participants
Fundacion Circe Centro de investigacion de recursos y consumos energeticos (Spain)
Technische Universitaet Clausthal (Germany)