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Blackouts highlight need for smarter electrical grid, SBI Energy says

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Thursday, August 23, 2012

The recent blackouts that have struck parts of the United States and the historic power outage in India demonstrate just how vulnerable electric grids really are, but according to SBI Energy, smart grid technologies could be instrumental eliminating the risk of blackouts.

According to the report, service disruptions will continue to affect the global economy and force businesses to pay for heavy losses associated with the downtime, lost businesses and additional energy costs. However, if the proper smart grid technologies are installed throughout the grid, companies could see a less costly way to receive power than constructing new generation plants. The new technology would also lead to more reliable transmission and distribution infrastructure, according to Ecoseed.

The media outlet states that the smart grid promises to increase flexibility in regional, national and continental grids, and also solve some of the most pressing issues utilities are facing, such as tremendous increases in demand for power.

"Voltage disruptions, blackouts and brownouts are perennial problems because contemporary grid systems remain inherently disjointed," the report said. "In India, energy demand is outpacing available generation. Transmission line congestion and regional bottlenecks in the United States' patchwork grid have been implicated in grid disruptions; some major blackouts have been sourced to the malfunction or loss of one substation or switchyard."

Utilities are looking to solve these problems by increasing flexibility through real-time two-way communications with intelligent electronic devices installed on substations and other power infrastructure.

In addition to increasing flexibility and reliability, the report said, broader-scale deployment of smart grid technologies will also help lower costs for both utilities and industrial power users. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the cost of service interruptions in the U.S. is expected to climb to $71 billion by 2020. SBI asserts that the smart grid market will make up only about 10 percent of those costs.

The report concluded that conducting smart grid tests and pilot programs would be an "excellent investment" for utilities, compared to more expensive grid projects that entail hardware replacements or expansions.

SUBNET has developed a line of products and solutions that help utilities keep the cost of smart grid installations down as well as time spent on deployments. SUBNET's vendor-agnostic approach allows utilities to use their existing IT infrastructure to upgrade devices without costly hardware upgrades. 

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