The Rise of the Smart Grid

2016/07/18 • Bloomberg, Feature, Smart Grid • Views: 2636

IoT will create significant opportunities for new products and services, as well as a more measured, sustainable model of energy consumption.

Finding and distributing the energy needed to support rising populations and rapid economic growth has been a major global challenge for decades.

This pursuit has come with heavy costs, from depleted resources to the pollution driven by fossil fuel consumption. Despite efforts to foster cleaner and more diverse energy sources, all signs point to this struggle intensifying in the year ahead. A recent World Energy Forum report warned that a predicted worldwide water shortfall by 2030 could affect 98% of global electric power generation.[1]

Source : Bloomberg The Rise of the Smart Grid

Energy may be precious, but much of it is still lost to inefficiency and waste. In the United States, for example, the Energy Information Administration estimates that transmission and distribution losses average 6% of the total electricity distributed nationwide annually.[2]

With resources under strain and protection of the environment a major focus, many markets are striving for more efficient and nimble energy systems. These goals are being supported by the emergence of the ‘smart’ electricity grid, which incorporates connected technology to manage and deliver power in a more flexible, responsive and reliable way, contributing to conservation and cost savings.

Linking electricity grids, power utilities and consumers through next-generation networking, cloud computing and Big Data solutions essentially allows energy distribution to become a two-way process. Demand data from end-users can be fed back to providers, and capacity and services can be adjusted in real-time to match. Faults in a transmission network can be flagged instantly and routing shifted accordingly. A smarter grid is also virtually a prerequisite for large-scale power generation from renewable sources such as solar and wind, which are often located in remote locations and have highly variable generation rates depending on time of day or weather conditions.

Connecting all aspects of the power cycle

Since unveiling its vision of a fully connected grid in 2014, Huawei has moved quickly to enhance its smart grid solutions portfolio. These solutions span all segments of a power system, from generation to emergency communications. The smart grid portfolio is based around three core pillars: fully-connected networks, efficient information sharing and ubiquitous communication.

Whether wired or wireless, fully-connected networks are able to provide consistent and universal coverage for all utility businesses and service scenarios. This capability is encapsulated in Huawei’s power transmission and transformation communications solution: By selectively partitioning and layering its grid structure, it allows operators to transmit data as well as electricity across vast distances, and shore up their defenses against multiple potential points of failure.

Master stations, substations and distribution terminals, meanwhile, can be linked to accurately display and analyze distribution system activity in real time. At the consumer end, advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) allows operators to read and control electricity meters remotely, paving the way for the reduction of electricity losses and theft, more efficient billing cycles and better communication with end-users. Huawei has even developed solutions specifically for on- and off-grid solar photovoltaic plant that allow for remote monitoring and management, and the storage and release of energy to meet demand peaks and troughs.

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The connected grid environment must provide secure processing, storage, analysis and accessibility of data to maximize its usability. With this in mind Huawei has created a series of solutions to enable information sharing in electricity systems. These are concentrated on the dispatch center, where an electricity system is tracked, organised and controlled. High-performance server, storage and networking technologies can transform these centers from passive monitoring stations to bases for strategic decision-making, highly attuned to shifting demand patterns and able to deliver early warnings and comprehensive analyses. Similarly, cloud-based data centers allow power utilities to integrate their management systems; rapidly repurpose IT architecture to support emerging business needs; and share information efficiently between departments.

Ubiquitous communication is designed to address the gaps many power utilities face as large enterprises operating numerous branches and sensitive facilities across significant geographical distances. High-definition videoconferencing and unified communication products have been integrated into the industry’s first convergent conference solution, enabling employees to connect and collaborate face-to-face, regardless of location. Converged network solutions provide a platform for the management of mobile devices, allowing workers to securely access company applications on the road, or transforming tablets into remote monitoring and infrastructure inspection tools.

Different markets, one suite of solutions

Reflecting the rising interest in renewable energy and energy efficiency globally, some 160 power companies in 65 countries have adopted Huawei smart grid solutions to improve system management and performance, boost the utilisation of renewables and reduce power outages.

Movement toward a smarter grid does not necessarily entail full-scale reinvention. In Thailand, the Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) was contending with an aging network that struggled to deliver video and other data services. Huawei provided the PEA with a hybrid production and dispatching network with higher bandwidth and superior transmission quality, which supplemented rather than completely replaced existing infrastructure. The result is a network that is fully compatible with what came before, which continues to benefit from existing operation and maintenance expertise.However,it is also capable of supporting multiple IP-based services and serving as the foundation for future smart grid innovations.

It is important to note that smart grid solutions are not only for developed markets with sophisticated electric or network infrastructure. In Africa—where in many markets billing is irregular, electricity theft endemic and infrastructure limited—smart smart electricity meters can help utilities understand consumer demand and bill in a timely and transparent manner, while consumers benefit from usage information they can trust.

AMI can therefore play an important role in the development of Africa’s electricity sector. While the potential is immense, implementing these solutions can take years, and for this reason Huawei acts as a long-term partner to African power companies, working closely with them to phase out outdated facilities, establish metering systems and impart technical expertise.

The proliferation of the Internet of things, such as connected home appliances, makes it easy to envision an “Energy Internet” in which power systems are monitored and optimised in real time, homes are connected seamlessly to renewable-source, self-managing microgrids and usage data from devices can form the basis for energy conservation initiatives. This will create significant opportunities for new products and services, as well as a more measured, sustainable model of energy consumption. It is a field in which Huawei is determined to further enhance its market-leading expertise.

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Mr. Jerry Ji, President of Energy Sector, Huawei Enterprise BG, commented, “A fully connected Energy Internet will maximize the potential and value of electrical devices. The Energy Internet will allow cities to achieve power consumption forecasts, peak load shifting and accurate line loss analysis, while enabling citizens to adjust their power consumption based on the real-time price of electricity. Huawei adopts a ‘1-2-1’ strategy to accelerate digital transformation in the power industry and advanced the Energy Internet. The first ‘1’ stands for an IoT connection management platform that is fully open to third parties and partners, and creates value for the whole industry. The ‘2’ stands for two connection modes—wired and wireless—including OneAir-IOT and broadband Power Line Communication (PLC). The last ‘1’ stands for LiteOS Iot operating system, which enables partners to quickly and efficiently build their own IoT products.”

[1] https://www.worldenergy.org/news-and-media/press-releases/global-power-generation-could-be-severely-affected-by-predicted-40-global-water-shortfall-in-2030/

[2] https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=105&t=3

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