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RTE chooses Nokia to build a new grid network for the digital era

RTE chooses Nokia to build a new grid network for the digital era

Electrical transmission and distribution utilities are deploying digital technologies that promise to help them build smarter grids, support new business models and make a faster transition to sustainable energy. To realize the promise of digital applications and assets, utilities need modern grid communications networks that can deliver new levels of speed, coverage, scalability and reliability.

RTE embraces the digital future

Réseau de Transport d’Électricité (RTE) is a public utility with its sights set on the future. As the electricity transmission system operator of France, RTE is responsible for a nationwide high-voltage transmission system that includes more than 105,000 km of lines and 50 interconnections with neighboring countries.

RTE controls and operates this system in real time, balancing supply and demand second by second. It also develops the system to adapt to new customer and supplier demands and ensure integration with the European power system.

Over the last decade, RTE has invested strongly in digital technology and transformation to make its grid smarter, provide an uninterrupted flow of current, and help accelerate energy industry transition within France and across Europe.

In 2014, RTE began a multi-year effort to replace its PDH/SDH-based network with a completely new and modern network that could meet the connectivity demands of smart substations. The company recognized that the PDH/SDH technology could not offer the flexibility or scalability required to support the data demands of digital applications. It also knew that some of its network equipment was nearing end of life or becoming obsolete.

Building a digital-ready grid communications network

RTE decided to base its new grid communications network on Nokia IP/MPLS technology. The Nokia solution enables RTE to converge all mission-critical grid communication systems and applications on one cost-effective network built around IP and 4G broadband wireless. It also gives the company the flexibility to optimize IP-based smart grid applications and extend remote monitoring, control and automation to new devices. RTE has chosen to deploy the network in a uniform way to ensure that it can meet the demands of any application in any substation.

RTE has also used Nokia solutions to build a DWDM infrastructure on its optical network. This infrastructure enables the company to meet new speed demands at every site while limiting consumption of its optical network.

The DWDM network played a key role in the network transformation by enabling RTE to keep its PDH/SDH network running as it built the new IP/MPLS network. As the optical backbone for everything, the DWDM network allowed RTE to ensure a smooth migration from TDM to IP/MPLS for each grid application and keep fiber assets available for other services.

The latest addition to the network is the Nokia Wavence microwave portfolio, which enables RTE to replace its TDM microwave network and complete the move to packet technology. This utility-grade portfolio provides comprehensive support for short-haul, long-haul, E-Band and SDN-based management use cases. It is designed to maximize radio link performance, support advanced packet networking and simplify network operations. RTE will take advantage of its flexibility to establish new sites quickly – for example, to connect wind farms.

Critical use cases enabled by the new network

RTE can rely on its packet-based grid communications network to support use cases that are crucial to its digital transformation and energy transition ambitions, including:

  • Transporting TDM flows for applications such as teleprotection and differential protection
  • Transporting IP VPN services to connect applications, devices and assets
  • Transporting all traffic flows, from remote control flows towards SCADA to back-office flows towards enterprise sites
  • Supporting other types of industrial traffic, including remote meter reading and remote management

The new network also ensures that mission-critical applications such as teleprotection and differential protection will continue to execute their functions without compromising on performance. With the Nokia IP/MPLS, DWDM and microwave solutions, RTE can provide reliable and secure critical connectivity between protection relays with a consistent, high quality of service characterized by deterministic delay, jitter and delay symmetry. RTE conducted extensive tests of the Wavence technology’s capabilities and performance in Nokia labs in Paris and the Power Network Demonstration Centre in Glasgow before deciding to deploy it on a large scale.

Moving to an IP/MPLS-based network gives RTE a strong foundation for exploring more ways to build a smarter and more reliable grid. For example, IP-capable networks are essential for supporting IEC 61850 standards, which will advance the digitalization of substations and enable the deployment of smarter grid protection schemes, such as wide-area protection. And because Ethernet and IP interfaces provide latency an order of magnitude lower than that supported by TDM interfaces, RTE can even consider using cloud computing to virtualize grid protection and control functions in the future.

Find out more

RTE is still in the initial stages of a broader transformation plan that encompasses the digitalization of its transmission grid and the transition to sustainable energy within France and Europe. The early successes with the new network have encouraged the company to accelerate this plan.

Watch our video interviews with RTE leaders to learn more about how the company is using our solutions to support critical grid protection applications and provide more speed, performance, scalability and flexibility for digital use cases.

Visit our web page to learn more about how our solutions can help you succeed with your digitalization plans.

Dominique  Verhulst

About Dominique Verhulst

Dominique Verhulst is global head of the utilities vertical at Nokia, leveraging the full portfolio of networking solutions, analytics and professional services to provide end-to-end solutions to utility companies. He is the author of the “Teleprotection over Packet Networks” e-book, available on the iTunes bookstore, and the co-author of several publications from the University of Strathclyde.
Dominique has more 30 years of experience in the telecommunications networking industry, holding senior sales and marketing positions at Nokia, Alcatel-Lucent, Newbridge Networks, Ungermann-Bass and Motorola.

Connect with Dominique on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter

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