Smart Grid

October 23, 2012

MPLS and the Dawn of the Inevitable Migration to Smart Grid Power Utility Transmissions

 With traditional communication infrastructure and substation devices losing out to next-generation Ethernet and Internet Protocol-based multi protocol label switching networks (MPLS), power utility networks are undoubtedly going to join the forthcoming revolution.

As the smart grid space picks up speed, the high capacity of MPLS is necessary to manage the quantity of fluctuating traffic that arises from advanced grid applications present in such intelligent networks. Other tangible drivers of the growth include use of high resolution IP-based video surveillance equipment together with wholesale and Utelco services that offer broadband solutions to local businesses and service providers.

To stay in the competition, virtually every power utility company in the world has plans, either on the drafting table or already in deployment, to transform their approach to power transmission and distribution of the grid into an intelligent PSN capable of efficiently and reliably handling copious amounts of bi-directional and even multidirectional data communications. The systems should be compliant with Internet Protocol supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, IEC (News - Alert) 61850 intelligent electronic devices and other automation equipment.

Utility companies embracing this robust technology will surely benefit in the near future if the inferences from the findings of the 2011 Utilities Telecom Council survey about the communication technology spending by U.S. utilities remain true. The expenditure survey estimates $3.2 billion is being spent on telecommunication services and equipment  a year, with transport networks taking the second position next to two-way metering.

Since the migration to smart grids is inevitable, it is crucial that persons of interest read all the possible signs and interpret them rightfully to avoid misjudging entry time and techniques.  However, utilities that mostly operate in private networks are a little bit cautious about the changes to these critical communication systems. This factor will delay; though not do away with the move to smart grid networks.

For utility companies to succeed in the move, they have to pay attention to critical applications. Versatile clock accuracy, quality of service assurance, resilience and continuous process monitoring are the mandatory elements of any successful next-generation network.

Edited by Jamie Epstein