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Smart grid isn't a one time investment

By Max Burkhalter
October 4, 2012
We've all done it at some point: A new technology comes out. We hear about what it can do, get excited, skip through all of the supplementary solutions needed without stopping to really think about it and get caught up in the hype. It's easy to do this in the IT world. When an exciting new technology is released, our minds generally understand what needs to be done to get there, so we skip over those thoughts right away and begin imagining the future. When it comes to smart grid, that future is exciting.

The problem is that IT systems are no longer relegated to the back office. Those of us that get excited about complex new technologies have to find a way to communicate how to get to the end results with people from outside of IT. In the case of the smart grid, IT experts have to help utility managers, local government leaders and other stakeholders understand how to get to the end result of full smart grid integration. We also have to help them look past the risk, which isn't any different than with other networked technologies.

IT provides smart grid leadership
According to a recent Frost & Sullivan study, countries with a strong IT foundation are best placed to develop smart grid systems effectively. Looking specifically at the Southeast Asia and Australia-New Zealand region, the study found that Singapore and Australia are poised to become leaders in a smart grid market that reached a value of $1.4 billion in 2011 and will climb to $3 billion by 2018.

Australia and Singapore already have a strong foundation of IT systems within industrial technology areas, positioning them to handle the complexities of smart grid deployment and show the rest of the region, as well as many other parts of the world, how to transition to the new technology.

Benefits of smart grid when aligned with industrial IT
Frost & Sullivan research analyst Krishnan Ramanathan explained that continued integration in automation networks offers the potential for smart grid to become even more effective.

"It is also felt that closed-loop systems will gain prominence in the monitoring and controlling of smart grids," said Ramanathan. "Hence, complete integration of systems will provide opportunities for automation manufacturers."

The increasing dependence of smart grid on industrial IT solutions helps point to the technology's key benefit for utility providers - it accelerates everything. The smart grid introduces real-time data reporting, analytics, process automation and a variety of other key capabilities to utility providers, updating an aging grid and providing major sustainability gains when managed well.

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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