eRSA services in use: Custom Cloud
ElectraNet is the principal Transmission Network Service Provider in South Australia and operates in the National Electricity Market. South Australia’s electricity transmission network is the backbone of the electricity supply system that transports power generated from local and interstate sources to metropolitan, regional and remote areas.
On Wednesday, 28 September 2016, a severe and wide-spread storm, which the South Australian Bureau of Meteorology described as a one-in-50 year event, damaged 22 transmission towers and brought down three of the four circuits that move power between Adelaide and the north of the State.
The weather event included destructive winds and tornados and contributed to a state-wide blackout across South Australia, also known as a black system event.
Although already underway, the blackout brought forward ElectraNet’s work on enhancing its energy market analysis capabilities
ElectraNet engaged eRSA to run energy market analysis that explored the development of the forecast $100 billion investment required over the next 20 years across the National Energy Market. The analysis needed to take into consideration electricity demand across the current and future electricity network infrastructure, state-based interconnectors, costs of renewable and non-renewable energy, and the stock market.
ElectraNet’s market analysis requirements had exceeded the computational capacity of their infrastructure, and with a significantly shortened timeframe to take on the project, they needed a solution immediately. The complexity of the project made it impossible for the analysis to be run on a commercial cloud system; they needed an intricate and customised solution which eRSA were able to quickly provide.
eRSA set up a proof of concept environment to determine the amount of resources required to run the production scale environment over an eight-month period. From this, we were able to identify that running the analysis required 108 cores, 500GB RAM and 50TB of storage, which is provided by 20 virtual machines (VMs) in a custom cloud solution.
The solution saw eRSA deploy a series of VMs, specialist network and security measures, essentially building a custom cloud platform large enough to run ElectraNet’s software, Energy Exemplar Plexos, effectively. The Plexos software is designed to utilise multi-thread processing in a cluster configuration and calls for significant compute performance. By providing a large scale platform, the Plexos software was able to take advantage of parallel processing, thus being able to run many large variable simulations concurrently and provide much faster computation and data handling. Without eRSA’s custom cloud solution, it would have been impossible for ElectraNet to process such large volumes of data efficiently, whilst being able to quickly compare results and try multiple formula variables.
By engaging eRSA, ElectraNet had access to a vast amount of resources without having to build a dedicated environment specific to this project. This meant they avoided having to make a large investment in unfamiliar technological solutions that would require significant personnel upskilling and were able to continue with business as usual, leaving the fundamental technology know-how to eRSA.
Like more information about ElectraNet and their work? Visit www.electranet.com.au.