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Network performance vital for smart grid success

By Max Burkhalter
February 22, 2013

Smart grid technologies are changing the ecosystem of energy delivery around the world. According to a recent Electric Light & Power report, the rise of smart grid solutions is creating an environment in which project and data management is becoming essential for utility providers.

The network has to be prioritized in this landscape in which IT functionality is meshing with utility operations.

Considering the need for better utility management
The news source pointed to one utility provider that deployed smart grid systems in 2006 to illustrate the importance of better management techniques. The power company had deployed meter data management solutions alongside customer-facing apps and a variety of new operational solutions that have had a major positive impact on operations. To a great extent, these gains have been achieved because the advanced meter data management system was supported by new project management goals that have enabled innovation within the utility setup.

It all comes down to data
According to the report, there are many factors that contribute to finding success with project management strategies in utility settings. Choosing the right personnel and identifying suitable project stakeholders play a key role in this process.

While people and operations certainly matter when working with smart grid solutions, all of the process improvements and operational gains stem from a central lifeline - data.

Smart grid technologies enable power delivery innovation because they give providers the data they need to make better purchasing decisions and give consumers the information they require to live more sustainably. This data-focused landscape is instrumental to every phase of operations when utility vendors engage in smart grid. At the same time, communications also becomes extremely important, but this process is also data-driven, as it often focuses on getting different utility employees the information they need to work as efficiently as possible.

As data becomes the focal point of utility operations, the network is emerging as a central enabler.

Getting the network ready for smart grid
Data-based business functionality is built on Ethernet. Networks using the Ethernet protocol can support voice, data and video services, allowing for true collaboration and more intelligent operations. However, operations technologies in power grids generally need a serial connection to transmit data. This makes terminal server infrastructure essential to the ongoing success of smart grid technologies. As Ethernet rises as a key component of utility operations, terminal servers play a vital role in ensuring data-focused operations are possible throughout the entire power deliver ecosystem.

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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