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Smart grid innovation could accelerate in light of DOE project

By Max Burkhalter
June 25, 2013

The U.S. Department of Energy recently unveiled a new project that could help spearhead smart grid deployment and enable innovation across the entire utility grid. A new renewable energy grid integration system is central to this program, as the laboratory platform could allow utility providers to test and assess the best ways to use renewable energy and establish integrated smart grid setups, the IEEE Spectrum reported.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is working with the DOE to establish the renewable energygrid integration environment. The solution already has a partner in place and is showing signs of becoming a center that accelerates smart grid deployment and allows utility providers to integrate renewable energy systems into the grid as efficiently as possible, the news source explained.

Looking closely at the DOE project
According to the report, the new laboratory is designed to provide a utility-scale testing environment that enables companies to evaluate how components like electrical vehicles, solar panels, wind turbines and grid appliances interact with one another. This could lead to more efficient development of smart grid systems because the lab providers a central area where organizations can evaluate grid setups and develop the best ways to use renewables effectively.

One of the most promising aspects of the facility is its scale. The center features a significant number of laboratories that provide partners with testing climates, but it also boasts a number of outdoor areas where utility-scale environments can be established to test renewable solutions at scale, the news source explained.

In a statement detailing the laboratory,Ernest Moniz, Energy Secretary, explained that the test environment could facilitate increased renewable energy use throughout the utility sector.

"This new facility will allow for an even stronger partnership with manufacturers, utilities and researchers to help integrate more clean, renewable energy into a smarter, more reliable and more resilient power grid," said Moniz.

Dealing with interoperability challenges from a technical perspective
Compatibility issues are a major problem when considering renewable energy use in the utility grid. However, technological interoperability is just as significant a problem as different network and utility solutions are integral to the successful use of smart gird systems and renewable energy resources. Investing in terminal servers can enable utility providers to overcome these problems. Serial to Ethernet terminal servers can play a vital role in interconnecting different aspects of the grid with Ethernet technologies that provide communications, automation and control functionality throughout the system.

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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