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Smart Grid News

Smart grid to benefit from improved satellite communications

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Thursday, June 28, 2012

As satellite communications are increasingly used in smart grid operations, new technologies like substation automation, distribution automation and advanced metering infrastructure will become more popular, according to a new report from Pike Research.

In recent years, many smart grid developments have been consumer-facing, in which projects were focused mainly on deploying advanced smart grid meters. However, a new trend has emerged in which utilities around the world are studying and testing new applications of smart grid technologies, such as substation automation, remote monitoring, workforce mobility and communications network redundancy.

Such smart grid technologies are touted to raise a utility's operational efficiency by huge margins, and ultimately support a more reliable grid. But for the benefits to be realized, substation and distribution sites in urban and suburban areas must be linked with other fully-automated and reliable grids in rural areas.

This connection could soon be achieved thanks to several innovations in both IT, such as latency, and a number of other factors, including equipment and monthly service pricing. These advancements have led to major developments in using satellite communications as a way to connect a number of smart grid technologies, which will be instrumental in smart grid deployments that take place away from dense areas and metropolises.

The smart grid market has become an attractive place for a number of satellite service providers and manufacturers, who are now working with utilities to improve communications. The recent Pike report discusses how satellite advancements will affect smart grid deployments, and looks at what will be the prominent drivers of the market, the supplemental technology that will be developed and the competitive nature the smart grid networking industry will have.

Substation automation will be one of the most beneficial aspects of improved smart grid communications. With this technology, the grid can remain highly reliable, and can quickly respond to interruptions in real time to provide system operators with the appropriate actions to take. This, in turn, ensures uninterrupted power to all end users.

To help utilities manage their substations, SUBNET developed its Unified Substation Communications solution, which allows utilities to perform data collection and protocol conversion from a wide variety of different field devices. The system also helps utilities remain current with technology by using a Substation Information Server that changes with mainstream computing technologies, not fixed IED technologies. 

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