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Smart grid could finally be coming to India

By Max Burkhalter
August 6, 2012
Recent power outages in India amounted to one of the worst utility grid failures in recent memory, putting the need for smart grid technologies in perspective.

Smart grid, which uses a variety of environmental sensors, geographical data and intelligent metering systems, provides utility vendors with real-time energy use data to help monitor network events and design efficiency strategies. A smart grid can also be split into multiple micro grids so that power distribution, even in a general smart grid, can be regulated more precisely. Because of this, large-scale outages can often be avoided entirely.

In traditional utility grid architectures, the grid is established with a transformer station or similar site providing power to a large area that operates as a grid. If the power delivery process is disrupted in one area, it can bring the entire grid down. With smart grid, utility vendors can identify the precise location of a problem, isolate that part of the grid, and maintain power delivery elsewhere.

Prior to the recent major outage, India had been using some smart grid technologies, but only in small scale pilot projects. The report said India was not only behind developed economies, but also falling toward the back of a pack that includes emerging economies such as Brazil, China, Russia and South Africa.

The news source explained that the Power Grid Corporation of India already has a number of smart monitoring devices at nine different places within its northern utility grid system, with plans to develop a large-scale project in the next few years. But compared to China, which had 300 measurement devices in place as of 2006 and now has more than 1,000, India is well behind the curve.

Smart grid is among the core technologies that can prevent large-scale outages like the one in India because power grids are getting larger, delivering more energy and handling other processes that require better oversight and management.

Smart grid can provide more reliable power delivery for utility companies by partitioning the major grid into microgrids, a concept that can also work on a much smaller scale. Many experts agree that microgrid systems could be the future of the data center industry, as internal smart grids that integrate with the external utility systems could improve power efficiency, allow for increased dependence on renewable resources and limit the impact of an energy outage on internal data center functions.

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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