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    Thailand PEA’s Digital Transformation to a Smart Grid

Bringing the Light from Chiang Mai to Phuket Island

With its unique charm, Thailand attracts tens of millions of tourists from around the world every year. In Chiang Mai, the Rose of the North, tourists can walk in the ancient city, visit old temples, and pray to the Buddhist deity Phra Phrom for world peace. On Phuket Island, the Pearl of the Andaman Sea, visitors can enjoy sunshine on beautiful beaches or swim in the sea. Although Phuket Island is 1,200 km away from Chiang Mai, and both cities boast of different scenery, they are decorated by beautiful lights at night.

The Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA), Thailand’s largest electric power company, plays an important role in supplying power for those lights. PEA aims to provide affordable and reliable electric power services for consumers. It serves 17 million customers in 99.98 percent of the area of Thailand. With 512 substations and 914 offices, PEA offers power transmission of up to 10,173 circuit kilometers and 24,000 kilometers of optical fibers. PEA not only brings a colorful experience to local residents and international tourists, but also promotes Thailand’s economic growth.

Urgent Need to Upgrade Power Transmission and Provide Consumer Services

The digital transformation of traditional electrical power companies is the only road to fast development of smart grids. With the rapid growth of IP-based services, PEA’s early communications network for power transmission could not meet the needs of service development. For example, its legacy grid is old and vendors of some equipment have stopped providing boards and chips, making it difficult to buy spare parts. This situation has multiplied O&M costs. What’s more, legacy Synchronous Digital Hierarchy (SDH) devices cannot provide sufficient bandwidth for new services. Some existing services, like SCADA, were able to take advantage of IP networks, but PEA’s network could not accommodate the evolution. All these problems prompted PEA to upgrade its power transmission networks.

Unified Transmission Solution Helps PEA Evolve Services to IP

As one of the most important electric power companies in Southeast Asia, PEA has been exploring how to apply advanced ICT to upgrade its power grid. One of PEA’s major projects is the study of the evolution of key technologies that can transform power backbone and distribution transmission networks into a smart grid.

Huawei began discussions with PEA in 2014 about ways to upgrade its power grid. Many critical production services and Pulse-Code Modulation (PCM) services of the existing network needed to be smoothly moved to a new network without affecting service quality or security. PEA also has been launching new services. The new network required flexible access and capacity expansion for those services.

After thoroughly analyzing PEA’s demands, Huawei conducted many experiments and tests to develop a unified transmission solution customized for PEA. The solution completed the upgrade of PEA’s power transmission by adopting several methods, such as customized network migration tools, dual-domain bridging technology, and reused network management and equipment. With this solution, PEA’s transmission network entered a new stage.

Seamless, secure, and reliable interconnection of old and new networks with smooth network evolution: The electric power industry is the fundamental engine of a country’s economic development. A public power grid is an indispensable part of modern life and affects the national economy. Therefore, any upgrade must ensure reliable, secure service cutovers. Huawei’s customized migration tools ensured that existing services were not adversely affected. What’s more, the tools can access new services and provide spare parts service for up to 10 years as the network continues to evolve.

Soft and hard pipes for unified transport of production and office services satisfy future development needs: TDM services, such as dispatch telephone and relay protection, are carried by mature and reliable SDH hard pipes to ensure low latency and jitter. Bandwidth-hungry services, such as office automation, are carried by MPLS-TP soft pipes to fully utilize network resources and ensure flexible and efficient transmission. This combination of hard and soft pipes supports PEA’s strategic choice to evolve towards all-IP networking.

Built-in WDM and ultra-long-haul transmission technology simplify the network and reduce investment: To solve the existing network’s problem of insufficient optical fiber resources, the built-in WDM solution enables high-bandwidth transmission and conserves fiber resources by using one pair of fibers to uniformly carry multiple services. Furthermore, to deal with many ultra-long-distance network spans (80 km to 200 km), Huawei applied built-in optical amplifiers to reduce the number of regeneration sites and minimize overall network investment costs.

Huawei’s unified, customized transmission solution for PEA uses technologies such as PCM and Smart 40G. The solution transmits electrical power and office services to support the smooth evolution towards an all-IP network. It also ensures highly reliable transmission of mission-critical services.

Huawei’s professional technical teams planned a unified network, ensuring stable network operations. Unique technologies, such as built-in WDM and ultra-long-haul transmission, simplify the network and reduce overall network investment. Huawei also committed to providing spare parts for 10 years. In addition, ultra-high bandwidth and flexible scalability will satisfy the PEA’s development needs over the next three to five years. This solution will serve as an important example for power companies’ upgrades to smart grids around the world.

With the rise of the Internet of Energy and large-scale growth of new energy sources, building a better connected smart grid has become a general trend. Huawei aims to achieve further mutual benefits with PEA. In 2016, Huawei and PEA initiated strategic cooperation in innovation centers so that the two companies can collaborate on the development of innovative and competitive solutions.

“Huawei’s innovation center for the electric power industry is the first of its kind in the world,” said Wang Yifan, manager of Huawei’s Thailand office. “It’s also part of our engagement in Thailand’s Smart City program. We will continue to strengthen our cooperation with the Thai government and PEA to promote best practices for R&D and quickly produce innovative results to achieve win-win solutions.”

So, the next time you travel to Thailand, you can quietly admire local night views and think about PEA and Huawei’s efforts that generated the bright lights.

Customer Testimony

“The reconstructed power grid carries production and office services in a unified manner, enables electric power services to be migrated to an all-IP network in the future, and ensures reliable transmission of key services. It delivers powerful performance and flexible scalability to meet service development requirements for the next three to five years.”

— SUPATAT INKHOW, Regional Manager, Network Communication Department, PEA