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New smart grid developments to take intelligence to new levels

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Wednesday, November 14, 2012

As distributed generation becomes more commonplace and utilities continue to grapple with integrating intermittent energy sources, like wind and solar, into the electric grid, the demands of the grid are expected to undergo several drastic changes, Utility Products reports.

With the rise of new generation sources and tangled networks of power distribution infrastructure, power is flowing through several forms of equipment at variable rates at any given time. This will likely force utilities to install enough power cable capacity to support the increased power flows, as well as a communication platform that will allow intelligent electronic devices (IEDs) to be incorporated into existing grid assets.

This new form of communication will also lead to better two-way communication across the grid, while the growing use of intermittent, renewable energy sources will require utilities to install software applications that can balance flow with consumption, even if generation is not steady.

According to the news provider, this is where better IEDs will come into play, as well as improved ways of introducing these devices to industrial and utility-facing infrastructure. New measurement and communication modules allow utilities to better record energy usage data and leverage this information to improve grid functions. This, is turn, results in lower costs for both the utility and end users.

The first step utilities can make in creating a more reliable and efficient grid is to equip at least 20 percent of its ring main units (RMUs) with remote terminal units (RTUs), which will help companies remotely monitor basic data like voltage levels, load floats and temperature. Once in place, operators can manage these functions from a control center.

Substation automation still has a relatively low adoption rate, which suggests many utilities are still manually monitoring distribution functions and dispatching field personnel to transformers to perform checks and locate failures. This costly and time-consuming process could be eliminated, the news outlet says, by introducing more IEDs to the electric grid, and installing all associated software applications.

SUBNET's Unified Substation Communications solution was developed to help utilities consolidate multiple gateway devices needed to collect substation data into one single intelligent server that can bring together all substation communication devices.

With SUBNET's product, utilities can perform data collection and protocol conversion from a wide range of disparate IEDs, and replace legacy RTUs with the most up-to-date substation information server on the market. 

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