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Understanding connections within the smart grid

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Monday, April 23, 2012

Innovative communications technology is continuing to be an instrumental force in advancing modern smart grid infrastructure, and is helping utilities and cities generate and distribute power in never-before-seen ways. Through new services and applications that connect homes and businesses with utilities, the smart grid shows promise in becoming the grid of the future.

However, as network traffic grows to meet the demand for high bandwidth and low latency, utilities will soon be confronted by new challenges that could jeopardize reliable real-time monitoring and the controls necessary for such technological improvements, according to Intelligent Utility.

The media outlet states that the rising number of utility and municipality smart grid deployments has brought attention to the connection between networked devices, which will become a critical component of the smart grid. Utilities will have to choose between operating a private smart grid network that can be tightly controlled, or a simpler public operator network.

As utilities and municipalities work to enhance power delivery systems that will result in more efficiency and lower costs and allow for greater use of renewable energy sources, many are finding the current smart grid was built with only meter-reading in mind. Current systems may have trouble meeting the long-term bandwidth, low latency and Quality of Service that will be added to the power network.

This need for connectivity, or "middle mile" as the news source says, will play a crucial role in connecting multiple smart grid substation networks, and cover distribution automation devices and aid in substation automation backhauling. Currently, this connection is traveling through narrowband networks with high latencies - a system not suited to address the requirements of the smart grid projected for the coming 10 years.

According to Intelligent Utility, power companies will need to prepare for the next generation of smart grid technologies by adopting systems that support activity such as monitoring grid assets through innovative applications. This will allow contact center agents to quickly access data remotely, or deliver more broadband to technicians analyzing data across the service territory.

This next generation of technology includes SUBNET's SubSTATION Explorer, which can help utilities unify the visualization and control of all critical substation information. The product allows utilities to collect information that is typically scattered among dozens of different IEDs, and displays them through a standardized solution that ensures safe, secure and reliable operation of all IED-based substations.

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