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Smart grids rely on communications

By Donna Donnowitz
April 9, 2014

As demand for more intelligent energy systems increases, utilities and the cities investing in smart grids need to ensure they are supporting these endeavors with high-quality communications infrastructure as well. Communication is the underlying foundation of smart grid success, and without seamless flow of data and information between smart meters and utility providers, these efforts won't truly take off.

According to FierceSmartGrid, the trend that is having the biggest influence on these investments for many cities and organizations is the Internet of Things. Many cities are investing in advanced security, data privacy, and scalability for communication networks, as well as interoperability of their related systems, in order to support IoT advancements. These efforts will further smart grid opportunities and ensure that cities are able to leverage these trends.

Navigant Research noted that investments into communications technology and smart grid hardware like terminal servers and serial to Ethernet converters is expected to increase from $2 billion to more than $3.5 billion over the next six years. Furthermore, global shipments of smart grid-related communications technology is anticipated to increase to about 55 million from the current 17 million over the same period.

"Most attention in the smart city community has focused on the upper communication layers and applications - including IT and data management - that govern how a smart city operates and enables the collection and analysis of new data sources," said Eric Woods, research director with Navigant Research, according to the news source. "Without the underlying communication infrastructure, however, the smart city vision cannot be realized."

For any city or utility exploring smart grid potential, supporting it with adequate communications technology and the hardware to enable clear and swift communication between devices is critical. Smart meters help optimize distribution and control over energy, water and gas, but the communications hardware enables the demand response, management and optimization of the smart grid in general.

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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