DigiTEL, First Digital Laboratory in Romania

  • DigiTEL is a unique initiative in Romania, in view of partnerships between the economic environment and academia.
  • DigiTEL is part of the pilot project of retrofitting Alba Iulia 220/110/20 kV Substation, with a digital station concept.
  • DigiTEL essence consists of two main components: testing of state-of-the-art technologies before being implemented in the operational environment and continuous transfer of know-how to and from the university environment, contributing to the adaptation of the process of training future engineers to the requirements of real evolutions in the sector.

The National Power Grid Company Transelectrica and the Polytechnic University of Bucharest (PUB) sign a strategic partnership for the technological future of the Romanian energy sector. The two partners undertake to develop and operationalize a bold project in the field of research and innovation: DigiTEL – the unique integrated digital laboratory in Romania, for testing future technologies in the energy field (state-of-the-art technologies: digital twin, expert asset management systems, virtual and augmented reality, 3D CAD etc.).

In materializing a 10-year vision, DigiTEL will operate as an environment of testing and validating the integrated concepts used in the development of the pilot project of the first digital substation in Romania, which will be implemented by Transelectrica, i.e., Alba Iulia 200/110/20 kV substation.

With the implementation of the project of retrofitting Alba Iulia substation, DigiTEL will become an incubator of the new standards and technologies that support digital transformation of the energy sector. The project of the digital substation is provided in Transelectrica’s PTG Development Plan for 2020-2026 with an allocated budget of around EUR 30 million, of which approximately EUR 3-5 million will be allocated to the laboratory. The project of the digital substation spearheads Transelectrica’s strategic initiatives, ensuring materialization of company’s strategy in the field of innovation and research.

“At global level, the energy sector is in a rapidly advancing transition. Therefore, we believe that in order to successfully deal with this challenge in the long run the only way is to join forces and strengthen the partnership between real economy and academia. We are delighted of the openness show by the Polytechnic University of Bucharest, not only as regards this pioneering project – DigiTEL, but also other initiatives we have implemented and continue to implement within the partnership. Transelectrica aims to remain leader in promoting new technologies and this is possible through a mix of operational excellence, professional excellence and strong partnerships with the academia and technology leaders. With this goal, we started on the path of digitization having a clear and ambitious vision of the future, and the digital substation in Alba Iulia is the central pillar of transition to smart power grids,” mentioned Catalin Nitu, President of CNTEE Transelectrica SA’s Management Board.

“For the success of transformation of the energy sector and transition to the digital era, the ‘key ingredient’ is adequate training of the human resource, in the spirit of innovation. Currently, at global level, there is a small number of fully digital electric substations and the fact that we propose together this bold objective creates the prerequisites for carrying out projects of a scale at least as large,” added Corneliu Bogdan Marcu, member of the Management Board.

“In recent years, digital transformation has become one of the priorities of our community. Whether we talk about digitization of administration or services, Romania needs the support of the largest community of engineers in the country, that of the Polytechnic University of Bucharest. In the project we develop together with our partner, Transelectrica, we have tried to look to the future. We will develop a laboratory of Digital Technologies for Electric Substations to help students familiarize themselves with the technologies they will use in the near future. Basically, through the project we create infrastructure to help training specialists in digital technologies intended for the energy sector. I believe it is an extraordinary contribution of Transelectrica and of the Energy Faculty within PUB to the process of digitization of the energy infrastructure of the country. I thank our partners and all those involved for their openness and for launching this project and partnership.”

Within the partnership, the Polytechnic University of Bucharest will provide the necessary space for arranging the laboratory and Transelectrica will ensure its endowment with the equipment, systems, and technologies necessary for the testing infrastructure, as well as the transfer of know-how acquired through the operational activity.

The main objectives of the partnership are:

  • Testing and commissioning of equipment and systems installed in the laboratory
  • Participation in training and certification sessions to capitalize on the laboratory’s capabilities
  • Development of knowledge and skills of students and specialized teachers within PUB regarding the equipment and systems necessary for the operation of the Power Transmission Grid, as well as of Transelectrica specialists
  • Testing and validating the digital technologies related to energy systems
  • Promoting the best practices, standards and technologies that will influence the future generations of equipment and systems, among Transelectrica experts, teachers, and students of PUB
  • Identifying competent young students who can consolidate the teams of Transelectrica and PUB
  • Creating a learning environment as close as possible to the operational environment used within Transelectrica and European transmission and system operators (ENTSO-E)

Steps to implement the DigiTEL laboratory will be initiated this year, operationalization being aimed for 2024.

© Photo: Transelectrica

Main pillars of Transelectrica-PUB partnership

  1. Training of future electrical engineers
  2. Supporting students’ performance
  3. Integrated digitization – the most advanced Digital LAB in the country


Specific objectives of DigiTEL laboratory

  • Implementing an integrated solution similar to Alba Iulia substation (primary equipment, secondary equipment, expert systems, digital technologies)
  • Implementing a modular structure allowing the simultaneous development of several disciplines
  • Involvement of teachers in processes of assimilation of new technologies and standards (training and certification with technology leaders)
  • Mass dissemination of the newly acquired knowledge, both in the area of student training and in the research area

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