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The evolution of SCADA/EMS

2010-01-25 17:32:29views: 1034ABB

The evolution of SCADA/EMS

Power networks are complex systems that cannot be efficiently and securely operated without an energy management system. ABB is the global leader in energy management systems with more than 5,000 installations worldwide - more than any other company.


SCADA/EMS (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition/Energy Management System) supervises, controls, optimizes and manages generation and transmission systems. SCADA/DMS (Distribution Management System) performs the same functions for power distribution networks.

Both systems enable utilities to collect, store and analyze data from hundreds of thousands of data points in national or regional networks, perform network modeling, simulate power operation, pinpoint faults, preempt outages, and participate in energy trading markets.

Computerized control

Although the roots of power control go back to the 1920s when ABB supplied its first remote control system for a power plant, it was not until the 1960s and the advent of computerized process control that modern power network control systems as we know them today became possible.

Most SCADA/EMS systems at that time were designed exclusively for a single customer. Power systems were vulnerable, and there was a need to develop applications and tools for preventing faults from developing into large-scale outages like the New York blackout of 1977.

In the 1980s it became possible to model large-scale distribution networks in a standardized way. A key project that mirrored this achievement was ABB’s integration of the generation, transmission and distribution networks in Bogot?, Colombia.

Deregulation and cross-border interconnection

The deregulation and privatization of the power industry that began in the 1990s was the biggest structural change in the industry’s history. Specialization became increasingly common, with many utilities focusing on either generation, transmission or distribution.

At the same time the need to interconnect national or regional power systems brought new requirements for cross-border control systems. Energy trading systems were required to enable independent system operators (ISO), such as those for California and New York, to operate real-time markets for energy trading.

With specialization now the norm, the needs of power operators were beginning to differ:

Generation companies needed an interface with the energy trading markets, and the capability to plan and optimize supply to meet spot market demand; transmission companies required advanced systems to manage their high voltage networks and prevent a fault in one part of the system from cascading across the entire network; and distribution operators needed to take network management down to the level of individual customer connection points (often numbering several million) to minimize customer outage times.

Meeting the challenge

Throughout the past 40 years ABB has been selected for many of the world’s most challenging energy management projects. In the last few years alone these include:


China Light & Power, Hong Kong (1998) - a complete distribution management system for supervising and controlling the distribution network of Kowloon and the New Territories, and serving more than 2 million customers.


ENEL, Italy (2000) - an advanced system that integrates and controls the whole transmission network of Italy and the generation networks of three independent power producers.


Endesa, Spain (2001) - a generation management system for one of the world’s largest power generation companies, covering 50 power stations and providing advanced generation scheduling for optimization and control, as well as energy trading on the spot market.

Independent system operators (ISO)

California (CAISO) in 1988 and New York (NYISO) in 2003, two of the largest and most complex power systems in the world. In 2003 ABB was chosen to supply China’s first energy management and power trading system for East China Electrical Power Group Corporation.


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