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Top smart grid trends for 2014 to 2018

By Max Burkhalter
February 5, 2014

When it comes to improving the nation's energy infrastructure and optimizing new utility technologies, smart grid deployments lead the pack in efficiency and benefits. Over the next four years, smart grid initiatives are expected to focus on several trends, driven by growth and innovation opportunities to enhance power delivery, harness renewable energy sources more efficiently and drive down the costs of power.

According to Energy Acruity, considerations such as distribution automation, demand response, outage management and meter data management are expected to be top concerns for utility companies, with many focusing their smart grid efforts toward overall improvement of their infrastructure to support these evolving trends. These individual areas will be top foci for investments from 2014 to 2018 for most providers, and high areas of concern for smart grid research and development as well.

Advanced metering
Smart meters and the deployment of remotely manageable metering in consumers homes will be a critical step in the future of smart grids. For many providers, advanced metering will play a crucial role in optimizing other trends, from demand response to data management, and boost their control over power flow in general. According to Energy Acruity's study, 41 percent of utility firms plan to invest in meter data management systems, while 52 percent have already begun deployment of such solutions. However, only about 30 percent of the companies polled reported having advanced metering infrastructure in place to support these systems, making it a major consideration in the near future.

Demand response
Of course, one of the primary reasons many firms are investing in smart grid solutions is to enhance demand response. Being one of the main cost drivers of utility operations, peak demand usage still causes trouble for providers despite enhanced infrastructure. By deploying optimized terminal servers and media converters, firms are able to transmit information about demand back to substations and generation plants rapidly in order to respond to demand more readily. Nearly all of the firms interviewed by the research firm reported plans to invest in demand response systems, with a focus on customer engagement and acceptance.

Regardless of the reason for smart grid investments it is important for providers to optimize the flow of information with the right supporting technology. Serial to Ethernet converters and the remote I/O solutions necessary to optimize and control information management will help firms streamline their operations and deploy solutions that meet their and their customers needs more effectively.

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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