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Smart grid landscape broadening

By Max Burkhalter
May 6, 2013

Early visions of the smart grid were ambitious, but not necessarily the most sweeping goals for intelligent grid design. According to The Energy Collective, the initial concept for the smart grid was built around deploying connected devices, like smart meters, and building the connectivity and control architectures necessary to optimize the use of that individual component. When the whole grid comes together, it would mean a significant number of devices would be stacked vertically into a more robust power grid. That vision is broadening into a more horizontal view that takes the smart grid and applies the technology to create a smart city.

Smart city architectures
The internet of things is central to the growth of the smart grid, as connecting a device range of utility-related solutions, regardless of their network protocol, is a primary function in the smart grid. However, the internet of things is not a utility-specific movement. Instead, a wide variety of sectors are adopting connected device capabilities as a common theme. This presents major opportunities for cities to broaden their smart grid deployments to apply a wide range of real-world applications. The report described this new landscape for smart grid design as a communication ecosystem that presents a much broader use for smart grid technologies.

One area where this movement is evident is in street lights, as municipalities can use smart grid communications and control architectures to work with connected LED lights to get more control over traffic lights and similar solutions, according to the report.

Industry expert Eric Dresselhuys told the news source that the move to a more holistic view of smart grid-related technologies could have a major impact on cities as a whole, not just utility grids.

"The industry once had this very narrow view on one-off applications," said Dresselhuys. "Now there's a much broader shift beyond one application to a world where anything that distributes and consumes energy is going to get connected up."

Making connectivity an option
While the idea of introducing more connected devices into the network may sound attractive, it does come with a few caveats. For example, not all devices use Ethernet. As a result, solutions like terminal servers are vital to creating a broad grid architecture that can support a wide range of smart city functions. Resolving key compatibility issues can ease smart grid deployment on a broad, city-wide scale, making terminal servers an invaluable technology in many sectors.

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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