The forum is traditionally all about power relationships — but in these cold, snowy conditions, a different type of power regulation may come into play, based on the internet of things.
The Swiss federal railway (SBB) runs on electricity. In the Global Railway Review and in a recent presentation in Budapest, SBB’s Andreas Fuchs explained how new technology is pointing the way to greater energy efficiency.
The highest energy use occurs in the winter during the coldest periods during the morning and evening commutes, when many trains all leave at the same time. These sharp peaks typically have a duration of less than one minute, and only occur a few times a year — but these few minutes a year require the supply of an entire additional power band.
By 2030, the SBB expects an average increase in demand for energy of more than 25% — and at peak times even more than 40%. In order to avoid the expensive construction of new power stations in the alps, the organization has implemented the first steps to a railway smart grid by implementing ‘peak-shaving’. This is when a high performance IT system identifies peak loads, selects appropriate “thermic consumers” that can be temporarily disabled, and switches them off for just a short period of time.
The “thermic consumers” include rail carriages and the railroad switches (points). The new system uses an in-memory streaming analytics system based on SAP HANA to detect the arrival of peak loads and communicate with the heating systems in the train carriages. Extensive testing has shown that not even the most sensitive passenger would notice the short time the heating is turned off.
There are many benefits to the new system, including postponed investments in new energy infrastructure by leveraging existing assets, savings in peak energy costs, and an increase in the reliability of the energy supply.
And this is just the start for SBB — the organization is already looking to expand this first project into a full power management system, with new opportunities to control other energy consuming appliances in the future, such as the train engines themselves.
If only political shutdowns could be as easily avoided by the proper regulation of power!