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Smart grid advances coming through 2012

By Max Burkhalter
January 13, 2012
During 2011, a growing sense of maturation surrounded the smart grid sector as more utility providers began moving toward the technology and the need for improved efficiency and performance became especially clear. According to a recent GigaOm report, this increased acceptance should lead to more widespread adoption of smart grid technologies and the concepts that support them during 2012.

This will be especially apparent in emerging economies, the report said, as the technology is set to become more prominent in nations that are poised to rebuild utility infrastructure to replace dated systems that are no longer able to keep up with development needs. This is especially prevalent in South America and Eastern Europe, the report said. Overall, countries including Brazil, Poland and Singapore are leading the charge to smart grid deployments in emerging markets. This growth in emerging markets will create a $50 billion smart grid and smart meter industry by 2020, according to GigaOm.

The next level of smart grid capabilities will also be unleashed during the coming year. The news source said places like California, Italy, Scandinavia, Ontario and Texas, which have been the leaders in smart meter deployments and utility upgrades, will expand to version 2.0 of the technology. Instead of simply releasing smart meters and getting their feet wet with smart grid, these regions will push utility innovation into improved pricing options, utility-related applications and automated systems that improve sustainability.

Smart grid will also be poised to handle electric vehicles during 2012. GigaOm predicted enough electric vehicles will emerge before the end of the year that major metropolitan areas will respond by investing in utility infrastructure and charging stations that are capable of supporting this movement. This could lead to significant investments in smart grid around the world.

The challenge, when transitioning to smart grid, is dealing with the more complex security environment. As more data is transmitted through the utility network, some of it personally-identifiable, the need for robust IT security systems is critical.

In response, the U.S. Department of Energy plans to initiate a pilot program that will develop best practice methodologies and help support utilities that need to make security advances in light of utility upgrades, Network World reported. Currently, the pilot program is starting with a small number of providers, but plans are in place to expand it into a national initiative.

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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