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Substation automation market to see 'remarkable' growth, study finds

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Friday, June 07, 2013

All areas of the smart grid have been seeing incredible growth in the past few years, which has been attributed to a growing number of utilities that are beginning to understand the benefits of the advanced technologies that are used to improve electric distribution reliability and efficiency. 

One of these technologies, substation automation has greatly helped utilities automate the monitoring and control process used on substations, and further adoption of the system is expected to come as more intelligent electronic devices (IEDs) are developed for new communication platforms. When used conjunctively, the technologies can provide utilities with new ways to control devices and transfer data, according to a report released by IEDS & Communication Technology.

The foremost IEDs currently on the market include digital relays, digital transducers, recloser controllers, capacitor bank controllers, logical programmable controllers and load tap controllers.

"Substation automation is incomplete without communication as all the IEDs and monitoring devices which are located at substation and on the field actually generates data that has to be passed on to the utility data center which is remotely located," the report stated. "This report also describes the wireless communication technologies such as RF Mesh and ZigBee that enter this market in future."

Major global growth
Because utilities are striving for grid efficiency and better reliability, many are putting their focus on substation automation. A successful implementation can also lead to lower operational costs and more efficient electricity transmission and distribution.

Around the world, substation automation's revenues are expected to rise at a "remarkable" rate from $95.30 billion in 2013 to $122.94 billion by 2018 at a compound annual growth rate of 5.2 percent. North America alone is expected to see substantial market share, with revenues potentially hitting $35.47 billion by 2018.

The growth of substation automation will correlate with an expanding IED industry, which will include new smart grid nodes that enable SCADA control and distribution automation applications. This will help many utilities consolidate their assets to perform more efficiently. 

"Being able to cost-effectively combine existing and new assets in any grid modernization plan, using a common communications and applications platform, avoids single-use networks and reduces unnecessary cost," said Ram Rao, senior vice president and chief technology officer at Ambient Corporation.

With utilities installing more IEDs, SUBNET has developed its Unified Substation Communications solution to ensure that power companies can cost-effectively update a single substation server as protocol and security technologies change, rather than updating every one of the thousands of IEDs in a system. 

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