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Smart grid arriving in emerging markets

By Max Burkhalter
December 11, 2012
In what amounts to development irony, there are many instances in which innovative technological solutions are actually easier to deploy in emerging economies with limited financial flexibility, because they lack the existing infrastructure that sometimes stifles innovation. This is helping many emerging markets take advantage of new technological capabilities faster than most developed sectors.

For example, mobile device use for banking, payments and other important operations has struggled to get off the ground in many developed economies because online and in-person banking are so accessible that the security risks of mobile pose a major problem. In some emerging markets, the severe lack of access to banking resources is making the security risk seem tiny in comparison to the benefits of making financial services accessible to the population.

When it comes to smart grid, the factors contributing to rapid innovation in emerging economies are not as significant as they are in the mobile market, but they are still enough to fuel innovation in many sectors.

Smart grid coming to regions with emerging economies
A recent study from the Northeast Group found that North America, Western Europe and East Asia posses approximately 95 percent of the world's installed smart meters. Despite this dominance in developed markets, many regions with emerging economies have strategically positioned themselves to rapidly leap into smart grid relevance by taking significant strides forward in a short time. As a whole, the GDP growth of the smart grid market in emerging economies was double that of developed regions in 2012.

"These 35 emerging market countries were active in deploying smart meters and associated smart grid infrastructure in 2012, with over 1.3 million AMI meters deployed," said the Northeast Group in a release detailing the study. "This activity does not even include the mega-markets of China and India, which are not covered in this forecast. A number of emerging market utilities have already announced large projects for 2013, fueling our expectations that the number of smart meter deployments will more than double next year."

Making the smart grid work well
To get the most out of the smart grid, utility providers have to consider network interoperability. Serial to Ethernet media conversion tools can play a major role in this process by enabling utility-specific technologies to work with the IT systems that make the smart grid possible. A high level of interoperability is necessary to handle the real-time data transit needed for smart grid functionality.

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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