Continuity of electricity supply, regardless of prevailing conditions, is critical to a nation. Electricity is an essential service - any disruption can lead to significant challenges in everyday lives. It can cut people and organizations off from access to vital tools for running households, managing businesses or operating life saving equipment at hospitals and other critical service providers. When electricity supplies are disrupted, restoring power requires the close coordination of a number of teams. To resolve faults, electrical engineers need both reliable communications with the electricity emergency services, as well as remote control of the power grid. Ensuring constant power supply regardless of the conditions or environment is critical for a society to function and thrive.
Energa-Operator´s electricity distribution network covers 24 percent of Poland's landscape. As one of the largest energy suppliers in Poland, the company is the first to have successfully deployed a modern, digital, independent and reliable critical communication system from Motorola Solutions over their entire territory and operations. The resilient and secure system allows Energa-Operator to provide reliable electricity supply and service to 2.9 million private and 200,000 business customers.
“Thanks to the independent communication system based on the TETRA standard, Energa-Operator can operate efficiently even in an extreme crisis situation. In addition, the TETRA communication network meets the requirements of the Network Codes (NC ER) prepared by the European Commission", says Krzysztof Bortkiewicz, vice president of Energa-Operator. “The system provides reliable coverage across our entire operation and is used in the daily work of energy specialists. With the support provided by the critical network, we are able to quickly restore the energy system and resume power supply to consumers even in the event of a power outage in a large area."
The importance of the mission-critical radio network for Energa-Operator
The digital radio network is key for Energa-Operator’s voice communication to enable consistent and seamless workflows on a wide ranging scale. In addition to providing reliable and secure communication between individuals and groups, TETRA* also provides the ability to locate and transmit short text messages, record calls, as well as send status and alarm messages. It allows Energa-Operator to deliver electricity to customers in crisis situations, respond faster to power failures and quickly restore business operations, thus improving the continuity of electricity supply, notably from their remote-controlled devices, with real-time remote monitoring and control of equipment.
The TETRA communication system is resilient and can operate on an emergency power supply for 36 hours in the event of a power grid failure. The radio network also makes it easier to locate faults in the power grid in the field, which results in faster failure removal and has a direct impact on reducing the time of interruptions in electricity supply. Next to ensuring reliable voice communication, the TETRA system is used to control remote sites and switchboards of medium voltage networks as one of the most critical functionalities. The network is the primary communication channel for thousands of radio-controlled devices, supporting the security of the electricity supply for Energa-Operator´s customers.
The implementation of the TETRA network coincided with the establishment of the European Commission rules for the electricity network codes and guidelines, which define a set of measures necessary for each power grid operator in the EU to defend and restore the power system in the event of a blackout. A reliable radio communication network is listed as one of the necessary tools that network operators must implement for transmission and distribution of electricity. With the installation of the TETRA, Energa-Operator is already meeting that requirement.
Successful 5-year partnership
Energa-Operator has relied on Motorola Solutions TETRA technology since 2015. Over the past years the radio-communication network of Energa-Operator has been successively expanded over its entire territory and operation. Currently, Energa-Operator’s network consists of over 145 base stations, and by the end of 2021 the planned expansion includes a further 20 stations. This makes the project the largest TETRA installation used by a utilities company in Europe.
“Our successful partnership with Energa-Operator is based on our deep experience in delivering, implementing and upgrading mission-critical TETRA systems, they trust our network to deliver essential services to millions of citizens across Poland”, explains Michael Kaae, regional vice president sales Europe at Motorola Solutions. “There has never been a more important time than during the current pandemic, for a reliable and proven network infrastructure to support those on the frontline.”
Energa-Operator’s vast network is extended to offshore wind farms in the Baltic Sea
Due to the high performance and reliability, and because Energa-Operator’s distribution area covers 85 percent of the Polish coastline, the company had already made its communications system available to organisations including Maritime Search and Rescue Service (SAR). It also covers the Polish Exclusive Economic Zone in the Baltic Sea - Ławica Słupska - the area of offshore wind farm construction. Here the TETRA network has a potential to support the maintenance of offshore wind farms in the Polish part of the Baltic Sea and to provide secure and highly reliable communication infrastructure to the workforce.
Recently, Energa-Operator’s TETRA project was awarded the 2020 International Critical Communications (ICC) Award for ”Best Use of Critical Communications in Utilities”.