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Innovation key to smart grid implementation, security

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Although the smart grid has seen impressive improvements in recent months, including updates to major infrastructure through heavy investments, the industry will still need the help of technology providers in the near future, according to Bloomberg.

With substantial developments in distribution automation and other network components under way, technology companies will need to increase innovation and overhaul current business models to promote the new grid.

Such was the consensus at the 2011 Energy Smart Technologies Leadership Forum, which Bloomberg New Energy Finance hosted in October. The event brought in several senior intelligent energy experts and other major players working to develop the new smart grid. Several utilities from around the world were represented, as well as major technology companies like Cisco Systems, SAP and Oracle, the news source stated.

Participants to the event were invited to picture what the grid could look like 10 years from now, as utilities are beginning to venture into projects that will revolutionize electricity generation and distribution. Topics discussed included smart grid devices that will likely be installed onto existing grid infrastructure in the coming decade.

But for the grid to take shape, Bloomberg says, regulators and lawmakers will need to lift blockades currently keeping certain aspects of grid deployment from expanding, such as demand response and distributed generation.

"Removing regulatory barriers to innovation and allowing new entrants into the market will help to realize the benefits of smart energy," said Albert Cheung, Head of Energy Smart Technologies at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. "We believe that smart energy will not only herald a technology update for the power industry; it will also usher in a period of significant business innovation, leading to a very different energy sector than the one that exists today."

The need for new businesses and technological innovations will arise in order to optimize activities that give value to the new smart grid infrastructure, the media outlet stated.

SUBNET Solutions Inc., a software and solutions provider, is supplying utilities with such innovations, with specific expertise in substation automation and remote access. As the new grid will become increasingly dependent on wireless communications, SUBNET also helps companies adhere to NERC CIP cybersecurity requirements.

These requirements and standards have been developed as cybersecurity threats have continued to raise concerns among utilities. Bob Lockhart, senior analyst at Pike Research, recently told Renew Grid Magazine that right now, "attackers clearly have the upper hand," but that improvements are quickly gaining ground.  

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