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Thursday, 04 August 2016

Extraordinary Women: Prof Raynitchka Tzoneva

Thanks to the bold efforts of one woman, CPUT is home to the world’s unique Centre for Substation Automation and Energy Management Systems (CSAEMS).

In 2011, CPUT opened the doors to the CSAEMS at its Bellville Campus, thanks to Prof Raynitchka Tzoneva, a leading researcher in the field of industrial process controls and automation.

Equipped with the state ­of­ the ­art substation automation laboratory, the CSAEMS provides much needed training for students, engineers and technicians employed in the energy sector.

Tzoneva says the idea of the centre was born more than a decade ago, when in 2004 the International Electrical Commission (IEC) put in place the new IEC 61850 standards, which governs the building, implementation and operations of Substation Automation Systems.

“This innovative approach allows the functions of metering, monitoring, protection, control and automation to be integrated and the respective devices to become interoperable in one system, called a Smart grid. The result is high stability and security of power systems leading to an uninterrupted power flow to consumers,” says Tzoneva.

However, with a lack of skills hampering the roll out of this new technology in South Africa, Tzoneva and her colleagues Shaheen Behardien, Carl Kriger, Dr Senthil Krishnamurthy, Mkhululi Mnguni, Adeyemi Adewole, and Quinton Bart conceptualized the CSAEMS.

In a bid to set up the centre, Tzoneva applied for funding from the National Research Foundation and Department of Science and Technology, and was awarded R10 million to bring the concept to life. She also secured additional funding of R16 million from the Technology and Human Resources for Industry Programme, CPUT, TESP/Eskom, and industrial partners Alectrix and MBSA.

Today, the CSAEMS is an enabler for education, training, testing, research and development in new technologies, which can help to upgrade and optimize power systems in South Africa as well as the implementation of the various standards which have been set by the IEC.

“The availability of the state of the art equipment allows practical implementation of the research projects ideas and outcomes. We are in a position now to propose to the power sector in South Africa real-time solutions of protection, control, automation, and optimization problems”, says Prof. Tzoneva.

The CSAEMS also has close working ties with Prof Alexander Apostolov, a world class specialist in Substation Automation and one of the creators of the new substation automation technology. Apostolov regularly visits the centre, presents seminars, and also co-supervises postgraduate students.

“The centre is growing and developing. Many postgraduate students have completed their masters or doctoral studies here,” she says.

Recently Tzoneva was awarded funding from CPUT to conduct specialized research development of a cost-effective, standard-based Process Interface Device for the acquisition and distribution of data in support of intelligent decision-making within a smart grid environment. The project is one of the three prestigious projects at CPUT.

In addition, Tzoneva is part of a team that has secured funding from the ERASMUS+ K2, an initiative of the European Community, which will see the CSAEMS in collaboration with universities from Germany, Italy, Sweden, Tanzania, and South Africa develop a harmonized modular curriculum for the smart grid that will be integrated into engineering programmes.

This course will be the first in the world to introduce the new standard-based technologies as a master subject.

  • The centre collaborates with the University of Cape Town, Stellenbosch University, Pretoria University, University of KwaZulu-Natal and Durban University of Technology. Other collaborators include consulting and design organisations, City of Cape Town, and vendors ABB, Alstom, GE, RJConnect, RTDS, RuggedCom, Schneider, SEL, and Siemens.
Written by Candes Keating

Tel: +27 21 959 6311
Email: keatingc@cput.ac.za

Provides coverage for the Engineering and Applied Sciences Faculties; the Bellville and Wellington Campuses, and research and innovation news.