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Ever wondered why your local power supply affects the accuracy of your clocks at home?

by Thomas Waggershauser | Mar 05, 2018

Yesterday I read an interesting article about the current power grid status in central Europe: Due to the low temperatures, more energy must be generated to meet the needs.

The gap between power supply and power need leads to a lowered network frequency. Interestingly the big power stations – that are on standby to have enough resources to regulate the power grids over a longer time – are obviously not fully used for balancing right now, as the power grid frequency dropped to currently 49.9x Hertz instead the nominal 50 Hertz.

This seems marginal – but hey, this morning I saw that this really has effects: When looking at the clock in the oven (which simply uses the power grid frequency to drive the clock!) and compared this to a radio controlled one, it makes a difference: The oven clock was 5 minutes late (and usually it’s keeping time quite well – and these 5 minutes piled up within a few weeks) – By the way: I did not fiddle around with one of the clocks on the picture!


At home, this time difference is not a big deal – maybe you might be a bit late for work. But thinking about the nation-wide or even global networks 5 minutes can be a disaster. One example could be that trains are late in some areas which makes the complex time-tables collapse quickly, leading to cancellation of trains or connections – comparable to effects of winter storms (blizzards).

Looking into the future – with more or less everything getting connected and intelligent: the IIoT-accurate timing is key. HMS already provides a solution to keep the IIoT running: The IXXAT SG-gateways are the connection between industrial machinery, the electric power grid and also other supply grids. And with industrial machinery we are not just talking about power sinks (e.g. hardening plants) but also special power sources – different decentralized, renewable energy sources including wind power, small waterpower and especially combined heat plus power stations.

The IXXAT SG-gateway can be used to synchronize the power need and supply by connecting all these small to mid-sized machinery together using smart grid technology. The main network control systems can make use of either reducing power need down to single machine level or also increase power supply very quickly using the combined heat and power stations. In addition, as the IXXAT SG-gateways are also used in other supply grids, like water or gas supply, these networks could also be used as energy buffer, e.g. saving power in water supply pumps by reducing water pressure in the city water grid for some time.

Right now, this might be a small topic, but with the megatrend of the world getting more and more urban and having more and more mega-cities it will become critical to manage all supplies in the best way possible to avoid power failures, network breakdowns or significant water shortcuts as we saw lately happening in Cape Town.

If you want to know more about the IXXAT SG-gateway, have a look at https://www.ixxat.com/products/energy/sg-gateways/ixxat-sg-gateway-overview or call your local HMS office.

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