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Software essential to smart grid deployments

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Many utilities that are looking to improve their grid transmission and distribution are finding that software solutions are making all the difference.

Automation is a trend that is growing more common across industries. From smart buildings to manufacturing, many companies are finding that software can optimize power consumption and streamline operations. The utilities market is no exception to this trend.

Renewable energy sources are entering the grid at rates that have not been seen previously, while customer demand for reliable power continues to increase. At the same time, the threat of cyberattacks to critical infrastructure is growing as the world continues to move into the digital era.

Software solutions
Fierce Smart Grid recently featured a story by Shawkat Ali, an IEEE Smart Grid Technical Expert. He explains that on a broad scale, computational intelligence can be used to improve utility service in a number of ways, for example, by improving substation automation capabilities.

Such solutions can aid in predicting how much power on the electric grid will come from certain sources. The energy supplies of a utility can change by the month as rooftop solar installations spread throughout a region or a wind farm comes online. With computational intelligence, Ali explains, these companies can anticipate what electricity will come from where, and in doing so, better plan where to route current for optimum service.

Software can also monitor where power is being lost along the grid. According to Ali, about 7 percent of a country's generated electricity is wasted, meaning that such solutions could improve upon this average by identifying the causes and monitoring them in real time. Furthermore, these capabilities can limit the amount of time customers are left without power. Computational intelligence can be used find asymmetric single, two or symmetric three-phase-to-ground faults and locate them to make for quicker repairs.

Software in practice
California's largest utility, Pacific Gas and Electric, has been implementing one of the most aggressive smart grid deployments in the country to manage the numerous solar installations across its infrastructure and improve efficiency, according to GreenTech Media.

One of the ways in which has done so is through software that can help manage power blackouts. By using Advanced Metering Infrastructure and analytics, the company has been able to identify where along the grid there have been service interruptions.

SUBNET has been able to help utilities make the most of their smart grid technology through IT solutions that can consolidate information about their network to a single server. This makes the data easier to process, taking advantage of the benefits that Ali spoke of.

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