Balance between innovation, security key in the smart grid

Security still a major concern in smart grid deployments, if not a direct problem.

By Max Burkhalter
May 9, 2014

Smart grid solutions offer some of the greatest innovations in power and energy available today, supporting sustainability, efficiency and demand response efforts, as well as the advancement of renewable resources. However, this potential has to be properly supported with adequate infrastructure and communications technology, from serial to Ethernet converters to the transmission station hardware along the grid.

For utilities, this means focusing on advancing their technology investments, but as new hardware and software are installed, network security issues also need to be considered. Smart grid security hasn't seen enough focus cross the power industry, and these issues need to be addressed for utilities to successfully and safely deploy Ethernet I/O and other smart grid solutions. Many security experts are calling for further examination of network security needs of smart grids, and increased focus on standardization to support them.

Security standards
The important of security standards in the smart grid market is balanced by the challenge of developing them. While it is important for utilities to deploy the right solutions to protect their systems, the constant evolution of smart grid technologies makes it difficult for standards boards to keep up. Furthermore, obstacles, such as the disconnect between providers and customers, complicate the implementation of smart grid security standards.

Communicate for growth
The key to optimizing smart grids, both for demand response and delivery as well as security, is to boost the communication of data across the network. Advanced serial to Ethernet converter solutions and terminal servers can optimize data transmission, ensuring that providers are getting access to all the relevant data coming from the consumer end of the grid, and able to put it too good use.

Of course, financial considerations are also important here. Continued evolution of smart grid technologies can weight heavily on a utility's pockets, but adopting the right supporting hardware will help ease improvements over time. By deploying the right solutions now, energy providers will be able to ease the integration of advanced hardware and strategies later on.

Perle offers a range of cost effective serial-to-Ethernet converters to help meet NERC-CIP compliance for the protection of critical cyberassets in substations. The IOLAN SDS HV/LDC Terminal Server is designed to meet harsh environments associated with Power Substations with attributes such as support for substation AC and DC voltage ranges, extended operating temperatures and meeting emission, immunity and safety approvals associated with substation IT equipment.


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