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Energy storage coming to a utility network near you

By Donna Donnawitz
January 3, 2013
Remember the days when movies didn't have to be a box office hit in a matter of days to be successful? Remember when niche titles may have only come out in a few key cities at first to gain popularity before spreading out to small markets? I remember those days fondly. During those times, every TV commercial previewing a movie would end with an intense "Coming to theaters near you on..." announcement to get you pumped that the movie would be available in your area.

Nowadays movies release seemingly everywhere and I'm not quite as easily excited by the deep-toned voice of the movie-trailer narrator. Instead, I get pumped when cool new technologies show up in my region. Enter the smart grid, coming to a town near you.

Perhaps even better, here come energy storage solutions, ready to hit a region near you. According to a recent Pike Research study, there are already 700 energy storage solutions announced or operating around the world. This represents a major step forward for a sector that is integral to maximizing smart grid functionality.

What do energy storage solutions do?
If you can think of what a battery does, you can get what energy storage systems accomplish, sort of. Batteries hold a small amount of power and can release it gradually based on demand over time. However, they are somewhat prone to corrosion and have been known to lose charge if left unused or if rechargeable ones are charged too often. Now imagine that on a scale times a few thousand. Energy storage solutions take large amounts of electricity and gather them into a device for an extended period of time, allowing it to be used within the utility grid.

What's the point?
You may be wondering why we need such giant batteries. Simple answer - solar and wind power are really efficient. They are also extremely unreliable and impacted by all the whims of nature. If we can store the energy generated by solar and wind power arrays, their intermittent nature is turned into a predictable energy generation capacity that the grid can depend on, especially if it is a smart grid. As a result, the growing prominence of energy storage solutions is a good sign for renewable resources moving forward.

Supporting energy storage
While energy storage is a nice idea, making it usable depends on advanced network functionality that allows for real-time communication with storage solutions as part of the smart grid. Accomplishing this often depends on serial to Ethernet media conversion systems, as specialty utility solutions are generally built for serial functionality, but have to work with Ethernet within the smart grid landscape.

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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