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Microgrid developments the future of smart grid resiliency

By Donna Donnowitz
March 10, 2014

Smart grid reliability in the face of inclement weather, natural disasters and other causes for blackouts is growing more important everyday as utilities invest in high-quality grid technologies and hardware like terminal servers and smart meters. However, continued development to boost the resiliency of power grids is leading toward new ground as researchers look at microgrid solutions that would help smaller communities and enclosed areas become more self-sufficient for their energy needs.

According to E&E Publishing, microgrids are a network of hardware and software that would allow a school campus, government facility complex or town generate and use its own power from renewable sources more effectively. The technology, which is being explored more thoroughly by researchers at the University of California, San Diego, is already in use in some places, but new developments could help bring these solutions into the spotlight in the coming years as more areas consider smart grids for their power needs.

The university campus itself is a testing ground for the microgrid solution, as it has seen its own microgrid solution bring power back to essential buildings after a storm in as little as a few hours. By running its own grid the campus is able to generate nearly 92 percent of its own power every year and save nearly $850,000 a month in energy expenses.

Microgrid solutions are becoming more popular in other parts of California as well, the news source reported. The town of Borrego Springs has been utilizing one since 2012, built by San Diego Gas & Electric and run from a substation 3.5 miles outside of the town. This smart grid network helps reduce power strain by the town, which is remote, and keep utility bills low for residents who run their air conditioning nearly year round.

With unique opportunities from microgrids opening up new doors for utilities, they will need to boost their operations to meet hardware demands at substations and within the grids themselves. Investing in high-quality serial to Ethernet converters will help get consumer solar panels connected, while ensuring proper distribution and storage of electricity generated by renewable means. This will help eliminate the risk of blackouts while optimizing power flow to keep costs low for the end user.

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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