Smart Grid

June 24, 2013

That Synching Feeling: New Solution Measures Grid Activity to a Microsecond

As power utilities upgrade to the smart grid, they are gaining the ability to monitor and control transmission and distribution operations in real time. However, to get an accurate “scan” of the power infrastructure, measurements of multiple remote points on the grid must be finely synchronized. For example, one-microsecond accuracy is required by a phasor measurement unit (PMU)—a device that measures the electrical waves on a grid— for real-time network situational awareness and overall operational efficiency.

To answer that need, Silicon Valley-based Symmetricom, Inc., a source of precision time and frequency technologies, has introduced a power utility category to its SyncWorld Ecosystem Program. The new solution is designed to facilitate interoperability, integration and cooperation among the vendors that deliver on utilities’ advanced networking requirements—helping to ensure unified, precise, and synchronized deployments.

“Over the last few years, we have seen an increasing need and value for precise timing and synchronization in power grid infrastructures,” said Charles Newton, president of the Ellicott City-Maryland-based Newton-Evans Research Company. “These functions play a key role in helping power utility companies [to] enhance network utilization rates; and improve management and mixing of renewables and traditional power sources.”

Interoperability is a key requirement to join the SyncWorld Power Ecosystem Program. Using various test cases with a defined standard for testing, Symmetricom focuses its assessment on the performance of a product against the IEEE (News - Alert) 1588 Precision Time Protocol in Power System Applications. During testing, Symmetricom clocks act as the master clocks, switches act as transparent clocks, and IED/PMU products act as slave clocks.

Ecosystem vendors in the power segment represent all major components required in substation and synchrophasor applications, including switch vendors and intelligent electronic device (IED)/ PMU vendors. In order to participate, vendors must work with Symmetricom (News - Alert) to develop a joint solution, to test it, and to commit to ongoing technical and business activities to ensure joint success. Those that already have joined include Belden, Burns & McDonnell, Cisco, Kyland, Moxa, and Siemens (News - Alert)/RuggedCom.

“With the introduction of the SyncWorld Power segment, we will drive collaboration and innovation among the industry’s leading power utility vendors,” said Manish Gupta (News - Alert), vice president of marketing at Symmetricom. “Whether it’s comprehensive, integrated and simplified solutions for power utility customers, or extended sales and marketing reach for vendors, the SyncWorld Ecosystem Program offers benefits for all participants in the power industry.”