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Potential, risk collide in smart grid home area network market

By Max Burkhalter
October 15, 2012
In many ways, the smart grid industry is beginning to look a little bit like a variety box of cereal. The full package is great, you get a bunch of those little single-service boxes and a few different types to try. However, there is always that one cereal in the package that you just can't bring yourself to like for whatever reason. In the same way, the smart grid introduces a number of technologies that are integrated in a beneficial way, delivering considerable benefits for utility providers, consumers and businesses. At the same time, it does create some risks, acting like the annoying box of cereal that you don't want to eat, but have to deal with to get the rest of the variety pack.

Smart grid market and its risk
According to a recent study from TechNavio, the smart grid industry is poised for rapid growth over the next few years. Between 2011 and 2015, the smart grid home area network sector will rise by a compound annual growth rate of just over 17 percent, creating major opportunities for innovation. At the same time, the rise of the smart grid home area network also presents security challenges because the infrastructure could be hacked, leading to data theft and similar problems.

The study found that while there is some risk from a security perspective, the industry has seen a significant rise in standards that may help reduce the risk associated with smart grid home area network technologies.

Dealing with risk
Security issues with the smart grid may seem problematic on the surface, but the reality is that any connected technology presents the same challenges. The reason is seems like such a large issue in the smart grid is that the network is so critical. However, the capacity to protect the smart grid is already present, as standards bodies are working to apply advanced cybersecurity methods to the smart grid.

There is also some cost risk in the smart grid home network because the infrastructure is so expensive. However, serial to Ethernet solutions can overcome this problem by cost-effectively aligning the advanced serial solutions used within utility setups with the Ethernet infrastructure in home networks. This helps control costs while also keeping the network as simple as possible.

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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