IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2020 - 57

Digitalization: The Transition to
Cyberphysical Systems
Ongoing changes in power systems are driven by four major
global trends: decarbonization, decentralization, autonomy,
and digitalization. Decarbonization by renewable energy
sources leads to a more sustainable energy supply structure
that should be designed with at least the same level of resilience as the conventional fossil-based structure. Wind power
plants, biomass plants, and especially millions of rooftop
PV plants cause a decentralzation of power supply, shifting
generation from the bulk system to the distribution system.
In addition, electrical heat pumps and electric transportation provide further local/decentral electrical conversion
approaches that allow higher efficiencies and decarbonization in all sectors. Including storage options in this perspective leads to another trend toward autonomy based on local/
regional power generation, storage, and conversion technologies. A fourth trend is digitalization.
Digitalization of the power system is the connection
of an increasing share of power system components to
july/august 2020

Damage

terms of system performance, the power system distinguishes
only between sections that operate within the limits of personal
safety and prescribed power quality and sections that are disconnected (normally by protection schemes). In contrast to
information and communication technology (ICT) systems, an electric power system is not operated in a way that offers severely
impaired voltage quality (e.g., very low or very high voltages or
frequencies) to a customer. In ICT systems, it is normal to accept
reduced quality of service (QoS), such as longer latencies.
When faced with the challenge of quantifying the damage
caused by a (partial) blackout, there are numerous approaches.
Simple metrics are
✔ the overall duration of the outage
✔ the maximum loss of load
✔ the lost energy.
These metrics do, in fact, correlate with the overall loss of
welfare. However, there are some additional aspects to consider.
✔ Some economic damage comes directly with the onset of a blackout. Processes are interrupted, production batches are lost, manual restarts required, and
so on.
✔ If the duration of an outage is longer than the designs
of backup systems for critical facilities, the damage
is greatly increased. Furthermore, components of the
power system might become unavailable over time
when backup power runs out.
✔ Prolonged outages during very cold periods pose a
special challenge since freezing can cause severe
damage to customer property, such as water pipes and
perishables. Moreover, they threaten components of
the energy supply system, such as plants and heating
networks.
Figure 3 presents a schematic view of the damage over different durations of time.

Shutdown of
Devices

Minutes

Depletion of
Backup Storages

Hours
Duration

Days

figure 3. The overall damage types of an outage.

communication infrastructure and adding sensors, actors,
and algorithms for more intelligent automation. The applied
ICTs enable the coordination of DERs in more decentralized
supply architectures. Digitalization also facilitates benefits in
power system operation such as decentralized autonomy or
operating the power system closer to its capacity limits. However, ICTs also add a vulnerability to power system infrastructure because technical systems may fail, and they may
be corrupted or manipulated. Although secure power system operation becomes dependent on a secure ICT network,
power system operation also affects the resilience of the ICT.
Figure 4 illustrates how hardware redundancies, additional sensors, actuators, and controllers via ICT complement the fundamental constituent of system performance:
the supply of loads. The safety margin provides an additional
operational indicator for the power system: the larger the
safety margin, the more robust the power system operation is
against possible adverse impacts.
Important questions should be answered.
✔ Does digitalization increase resilience due to better
transparency and control capabilities?
✔ How can more complex cyberphysical infrastructures
be designed to achieve higher resilience levels by digitalization, despite additional risks of cyberattacks or
communication failures?
✔ ICT allows the system to operate more at the edge
of capacity limits, whereas additional capacity raises
the level of resilience. What is the right balance between reducing costs of power system reinforcements
and reducing costs of high-impact/low-probability
events?

ICT Resilience
The increasing interdependency of power systems and ICT
adds a level of complexity to the analysis of the cyberphysical
ieee power & energy magazine

57



IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2020

Contents
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2020 - Cover1
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2020 - Cover2
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2020 - Contents
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2020 - 2
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IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2020 - Cover3
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