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The future of the grid has been defined, in part, by investments in a myriad of smart devices to add digital processing, data analysis and communications capabilities to an aging analog infrastructure. But, these devices do not necessarily enable the capabilities of the smart grid. Instead, the ability to unlock this future lies in how well devices can integrate. If utilities can get assets to work together seamlessly, then utilities and their customers will realize financial and operational benefits.
Unfortunately, the systems and supporting devices that comprise today’s grid are not set up for this. Most new devices consist of proprietary hardware, telecommunications and software. While these proprietary devices appear financially attractive when purchased, they often become surprisingly expensive over time because inevitable integration issues limiting the lifetime benefits from the investment.
In the April issue of Transmission & Distribution World, Duke Energy and Accenture outline how Duke Energy developed a holistic strategy to leverage a standards-based infrastructure to provide connectivity, interoperability and distributed intelligence. Enabled by various communications protocols, this platform also could reduce costs (relative to single-purpose, siloed solutions), improve operational performance, manage data and improve the security of the grid.
Posted with permission from April 2014. Transmission & Distribution World. Penton Media, Inc. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.
Interoperability can eliminate back-office systems and hidden integration costs, improving financial and operational performance. To accomplish this goal, the electric grid of the future needs to have close integration between all devices, not just the assets purchased from a single vendor. Thus, a standards-based interoperability solution is necessary in order to economically unlock data and systems from disparate vendors.
Interoperability is not the only capability needed for the future grid. As more customers install distributed energy resources (DERs), electric grids become more expensive and unstable. Thus, utilities need solutions that can rapidly respond to localized issues as DERs are deployed. Centrally managed systems – while effective at managing broad, slow-moving problems – cannot react economically with the speed and precision necessary to meet these new challenges. Yet, localized optimization cannot occur without strong interoperability between devices.
The efforts completed by Duke Energy has proven multiple vendors can collaborate together over a standards-based, open-source field message bus with distributed applications to increase security, reduce latencies, compress data traffic and reduce costs.
July 21, 2014
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