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Smart grid projects heading to new level

By Donna Donnawitz
September 20, 2013

If you've been following the smart grid for the past few years, you may have found yourself maddeningly gazing at report after report of smart meter installation projects. Smart meters are a key component of the smart grid, but they can also be frustrating because they are only the first step on a much larger path to grid innovation. According to a recent Navigant Research report, many utilities are beginning to move past initial smart meter deployments and forward toward a new level of grid development.

Smart grid advances on horizon
The news source explained that plenty of utility providers have now gotten their feet wet in the smart grid. Smart meter projects have become commonplace and even emerging markets have begun exploring basic smart grid technologies. This early adoption foundation has given utility providers a base to work from, and many are now begin to focus on distribution automation and other advanced technologies that could make the promise of smart grid a reality.

With more advanced smart grid projects come more robust functions. The study anticipates that more utility providers will soon be taking advantage of conservation voltage reduction, outage notification and other utility-scale technologies. However, the advances coming from the smart grid are not happening exclusively at the utility level. Residential solutions like electric vehicle chargers and home energy storage solutions are also ready to begin gaining a larger role in the broad smart grid market.

Getting the network ready for smart grid maturation
Many of the advanced smart grid solutions emerging on the market depend heavily on network functionality. This could create increased demand for serial to Ethernet solutions, as terminal servers play an integral role in enabling interoperability between specialized utility hardware and the Ethernet systems most commonly used for data networks.

Many utility-specific technologies use serial connections because they need to have zero-latency data communication to ensure information gets to the right components without disruption. The safety implications of data problems can be substantial when dealing with specialized equipment used in electricity substationsand in utility equipment. Ethernet signal and serial signal operate in slightly different formats, leading to compatibility problems that can create installation and deployment challenges.

Terminal servers ease the interoperability burden by giving organizations a simple way to bridge the gap between serial and Ethernet signals. As a result, terminal server solutions are emerging as vital solutions for advanced smart grid solutions.

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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