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Data transforming utility grids

By Donna Donnawitz
December 4, 2012
One of the great cliches of science fiction is the economy in which data is the center of all transactions. In these worlds raw materials and similar resources are so secondary to data that the economic and political systems are built around who has what information, not who controls what physical assets. In the real world, data has always been recognized as a valuable asset, but never to such an extent that it is central, only to the degree that data can provide a competitive edge. Reality, however, is beginning to shift more toward science fiction in the sense that data is becoming a vital asset. Innovation in the utility sector points to this trend.

Rise of big data in utility systems
Big data is sweeping through many organizations. The practice of big data analytics involves gathering, storing and analyzing extremely large amounts of structured and unstructured data to inform strategic and operational decisions. According to a recent Intelligent Utility report, big data has arrived in the utility industry and is clearly visible in the rise of the smart grid.

In an interview with the news source, a representative from the San Diego Gas & Electric department explained that smart grid is revolutionizing how utility companies and consumers gather and use data.

"The advent of the smart grid is transforming the traditional electric grid into a network of new technology, including distributed generation, energy storage, wireless sensor networks, software and computing," the SDG&E representative told Intelligent Utility. "These advances will give customers the ability to reduce costs, improve efficiency and reliability, integrate renewable energy and enhance the environment that we live in. These advances will also generate very large amounts of customer and operations data."

Getting the most out of data
While big data can enable much more effective utility operations, achieving this end depends on developing infrastructure for data gathering and transit. The transit part is especially difficult, as establishing the network infrastructure needed to send data throughout a utility network is substantial. Simplifying the network setup is vital to enabling effective smart grid deployment. Serial to Ethernet media conversion tools play a key role in this process. Since many utility systems are designed for serial connectivity, but Ethernet is the most cost-effective protocol for large-scale communications infrastructure, serial to Ethernet solutions are vital for utility companies trying to make the most of data.

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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