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Smart grid takes important step forward

By Donna Donnawitz
April 9, 2013

The potential rise of smart grid solutions depends heavily on standardization. A key step has been taken in the right direction as the Smart Grid Interoperability Group (SGIP), a branch of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), recently adopted a new IEEE standard for smart grid functionality.

Understanding the value of standardization for smart grid deployments
Interoperability is a major problem in the smart grid. Terminal server systems can help with some of the problems, enabling easy compatibility between serial infrastructure and Ethernet systems. But if you look closely at electric grids you will realize that they not only have a lot of parts, but the various aspects of the grid are designed by a wide range of manufacturers and solution providers. This is especially problematic in the smart grid, as various IT- and renewable resource-related solutions are introduced into the broad architecture. Creating standards that can ensure better interoperability is vital to controlling smart grid costs and accelerating deployment.

The IEEE1901-2010 Standard for Broadband over Power Line Networks: Medium Access Control and Physical Layer Specifications provides key insight into the best practices involved with establishing high-speed communications infrastructure that functions alongside power lines and transmits grid data in real time.Bill Ash, strategic program manager with the IEEE-SA, explained that getting official approval from the SGIP is an important milestone for the new standard.

"The IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) is honored that the SGIP has recognized the importance of IEEE 1901 to the future of smart-grid deployment and its ongoing development," said Ash. "Having the SGIP approve the inclusion of our standard in its catalog underscores the importance of smart-grid expansion and advancement worldwide. We understand that collaboration among multiple organizations is paramount to the smart grid's success."

The IEEE's efforts to resolve some of the core communications problems in the grid is a key step forward, but terminal servers and similar solutions represent an integral technology for the continued development of the smart grid.

Looking at terminal servers in smart electric infrastructure
While terminal servers have been around for a while as a key interoperability solution, their role is incredibly important. Advanced power delivery and renewable resource-related solutions often use serial as their primary network setup. The smart grid cannot reasonably function on serial because the protocol is not ideally suited to large networks. As a result, interoperability with Ethernet is vital for the viability of smart grid installations.

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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