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Smart grid challenges go beyond transmission and distribution

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Thursday, September 13, 2012

To an outside observer, it may appear that providing electricity requires only three steps: generation, transmission and distribution. But in reality, significant challenges exist for utilities once smart grid technologies have been deployed, Electric Light and Power reports.

According to the news source, balancing supply and demand will be a crucial part of maintaining the smart grid, as this will be affected by larger consumer requirements, hurdles in creating new power plants or integrating renewable, intermittent energy sources - such as wind or solar - into the grid. These utilities will also be responsible for monitoring operational expenditures to ensure profitability, which can change drastically depending on whether they are owned by cities or are a private company. All of this must occur within a reliable, secure operating environment.

Smart grid deployments will need a strong foundation to succeed. This, the media outlet states, will begin with a dynamic, flexible and mission-critical communications platform that can intimately connect operators with their enterprise of grid devices, establishing a reliable exchange of real-time information.

Integrating such a platform into the power grid will drive a need for intense planning and a holistic approach to meeting all goals that have been set. This demand has led several of the largest utilities all over North America to implement SUBNET technologies into their existing IT infrastructure.

SUBNET's Unified Grid Intelligence was developed as an interoperability philosophy that drives the company's holistic approach to real-time integration of smart grid systems. Such technology can be used to bring together disparate intelligent electronic devices and deliver information across any communications platform, greatly improving efficiency of data collection and analysis.

There will be a number of considerations utilities will need to discuss when deploying their smart grid projects, the media outlet stated. To begin, it will be necessary to create an end-to-end strategy early on.

"It might be tempting to build a network for substation automation only, or perhaps distribution automation and nothing else, but the best use of technology is to take an end-to-end approach to architecture. Look at the entire network, then build a communications platform that's robust and flexible enough to support current and future applications," wrote smart grid experts Mark Madden and Lynn Hunt for the media outlet.

By efficiently implementing smart grid systems, utilities can realize huge benefits and greatly improve operating efficiency. 

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