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The strong case for a smarter grid

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Thursday, September 20, 2012

The entire energy industry agrees that North America will need more electricity in the near future, and what is equally certain is that the current power grid will not be able to handle the rising strain placed on it, Renew Grid Magazine reports.

According to the news source, line loss, greenhouse gas emissions, fuel costs, new regulations and several other issues will drive a need for utilities to create a more robust grid that can handle myriad new technologies. While offering only 99 percent reliability was once acceptable, all of these factors together will create a demand for a grid that is virtually infallible.

New smart grid technologies will likely be the answer, which include intelligent sensors and controls, substation automation, new forms of communication and other innovations. The smart grid as a whole will be able to integrate all of these products, and also enable all types of electric generation and power storage systems to be integrated into the grid.

According to the media outlet, while the operations of utilities have grown increasingly complex in the last half-century, most of the infrastructure responsible for generating, transmitting and distributing power is decades old. Still, utilities are using these systems to control power distribution hundreds of miles away, suggesting a disturbance at one end of the grid could be equally disastrous in another part of the country.

"With less centralized control, the need for communications and coordination has become crucial. Sensors and other devices are overwhelming utilities and grid operators with vastly greater amounts of data. Therefore, automated, intelligent, real-time response to grid operations and power events will be required," wrote Bernie Galing, Director of Analytics at infoUSA.

However, Galing added, introducing smart technologies into the grid will help create a more reliable and efficient power system, allowing utilities to improve their cost management strategies.

"[Utilities] will be able to discern many problems before they occur, allowing equipment to be replaced or repaired before problems arise," he wrote.

SUBNET's products and solutions can help meet this demand for remote diagnostics. With SUBNET's Unified Fault File Management, utilities can automatically receive information about a disturbance that occurs anywhere in the system and is tracked by several relays. The data is delivered to a utility's protection and operation personnel in a matter of minutes.

With the solution, companies can collect, archive and view all fault records, using powerful filtering and query capabilities.

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