Thursday, September 20, 2012
Technological convergence central to smart grid innovation
When it comes to popular culture, I think most of us can say that there are few things better than watching completely different ideological worlds. Whether it's the geeky kid asking the head cheerleader to the prom in a teen movie or a brilliant scientist showing a goofy, uncontrolled side in a TV show, there's an inherent sense of fun when opposing stereotypes converge.
This convergence creates a powerful juxtaposition in which things that don't normally go together suddenly make sense, and the following epiphany, whether simply humorous or something that makes you think a little differently about the world, can be hugely satisfying.
In many ways, this is what is happening with smart grid solutions, and the end result is enticing. A recent report from The Energy Collective explained that convergence is a central theme in the smart grid landscape. In this relationship, the innovation is centering on the unification of information and operations technologies, which are typically kept apart, using separate network connections and other disparate supporting solutions.
But this connectedness between IT and OT is driving operational gains in utility departments and establishing the foundation for smart grid, which is widely regarded as one of the most important energy delivery innovations to emerge in the past century. The news source said operations technologies are the traditional infrastructure systems that run within a utility grid, making sure power is delivered effectively and systems run as they are supposed to. By converging IT and OT solutions, the amount of information that can be gathered by utility vendors escalates and how they can use that information also changes, leading to considerable opportunities for innovation.
The convergence of IT and OT is also spreading to secondary elements of the grid, particularly materials science research, the report explained. This is creating innovation when it comes to energy storage, which is a critical area for supporting the use of renewable energy from intermittent sources, such as solar and wind.
As IT and OT systems are tasked with working together, there is a growing need for serial to Ethernet media converters. In many cases, OT solutions use specialized serial networks, but IT infrastructure is generally built to use Ethernet. While Ethernet is emerging as a popular option in many settings, serial is still important in many utility deployments, and ensuring the network can transition between serial and Ethernet is vital to making the most of technological convergence in smart grid architectures.
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.