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New business models key to supporting smart grid growth

By Max Burkhalter
March 19, 2013

Smart grid technology has revolutionary potential in the utility industry. Energy service providers can use the smart grid to depend more on intermittent renewable resources that are difficult to use effectively in traditional grid architectures. However, transitioning to the smart grid can be an extremely difficult process. According to a recent Smart Grid News report, better business models have to emerge in the utility sector if long-term smart grid gains are going to pan out.

Creating a sustainable path to smart grid innovation
A recent Memoori study found that smart grid spending rose to approximately $36.5 billion in 2012-a 30 percent increase over 2011. Furthermore, 2012 was a year of strong merger and acquisition activity in the sector. Smart Grid News explained that the type of spending growth identified by this study is not a long-term option for the smart grid if companies keep investing the way they are now.

The report said that the primary goal of smart grid deployments is to develop an architecture that is capable of using as many intermittent power resources as possible. To do this, utility providers need to move beyond surface-level investments in smart grid technology and get more strategic about how they are developing the infrastructure. To a great extent, most utility companies have focused on the low hanging fruit of smart grid deployment. this has been created by a lack of understanding of the technology and problems finding enough funds to make deeper investments in smart grids. Moving forward, these business models will have to be adjusted to maximize the benefits of smart grid, deliver a return on investment and help utility providers take full advantage of the smart grid's potential.

Easing grid deployment
Interoperability issues can be a major challenge in smart grid development. Investing in strategic technologies to enable compatibility across the smart grid is an important part of getting deep into grid innovation. In many cases, specialized technology tools used in conjunction with renewable resources depend on serial connections to get the job done. This can create a major roadblock in the smart grid because Ethernet infrastructure is a key component of the network. Terminal server solutions can resolve this problem by converting serial signal to Ethernet and vice versa, enabling the smart grid to function at peak capacity and allowing rapid data transmission throughout the setup.

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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