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7 June 2016

Frost & Sullivan issues guidelines on grid connectivity

With regulation pushing the shift to smart meters for grid reliability, investments are still limiting effective system deployment, finds a new report.

At the same time, the increase in the deployment and integration of renewable energy resources with the grid has also placed a significant demand for the rollout of smart meters for real time insights of networks' operations.

Smart water meters

In addition, in the water sector, utilities’ efforts to effectively manage their distribution networks to meet up with the growing demands of clean water as a result of rapid increases in population and water scarcity is also contributing to the rising need for the deployment of automated metering systems.

The World Economic Forum predicts that 55% of the global population will live in urban areas by 2025 thereby increasing the demand for energy and water.

According to energy and water markets research firm Frost and Sullivan, “Today, most consumers treat water as an unlimited resource, but within the next decade, pervasive limitations on water consumption per household may well become a reality. Hence, to prepare for this eventually, water utilities need to pay attention to two-way communication.”

While two-way communication can be provided by smart meters, connectivity is achieved by the use of various communications measures such as Wide Area Network (WAN) and Low Area Networks.

The research firm also states that utilities are not only lacking the financial aid to deploy the solutions but the knowledge as well.

For instance, while WAN provides excellent outdoor connectivity, the platform poses a huge challenge for water utilities whom a majority install their smart meters in homes' basements.

Frost and Sullivan in partnership with smart communications firm Wirepas drafted some recommendations to help various sectors including the smart cities, telecoms and utility sectors reduce the cost of connectivity.

De-centralised grid connectivity

According to the report, by limiting the use of wide area network in last-mile connection and implementing autonomous device-to-device communication on licence-free bands, utilities are able to reduce their expenses.

Moreover by practising de-centralised operation where every device has autonomy to make decisions on how to connect into a device network would also reduce the costs and allow processing of data locally without the need for external back-end facilities. [Pacific Power signs Silver Spring for AMI connectivity].

In case of a failure in the back end system, the design would protect the network against a single network failure.

“A de-centralised network topology is ideally suited for smart cities, smart metering, logistics, retail and some specific use cases of industrial internet,” states Frost & Sullivan.

Besides the cost effective benefits of using a de-centralised grid  communication systems, the platform provides companies with multiple advantages including the fact that the system does not require advanced planning and nodes can be added automatically to the system an an ad-hoc basis.

Image credit: youtube.com.

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