Page 16 - North American Clean Energy November/December 2018 Issue
P. 16

 solar energy
 Keeping an Eye on the Grid
by John Geiger
network edge, enable highly-optimized industrial IoT solutions that enhance productivity of existing grid infrastructure. In other words, the traditional system utilities use to monitor DER and grid assets isn’t quite cutting it. To increase reliability and grid capacity, they need a device that collects data from grid assets, and rapidly signals changes. The result? Improved real-time grid awareness, minimized network downtime, reduced operating costs, and heightened, layered security.
The tradition of managing the supply of power from large centralized generation is increasingly being augmented, or replaced, by distributed energy resources (DERs). The adoption of DER’s is creating the need for highly distributed automation monitoring and control solutions, to maintain power quality on the medium-voltage grids.
  DERs consist of physical and virtual assets deployed across the distribution grid, typically close to load, and usually behind the meter. Devices and systems, on both sides of the electric meter, can help the grid function more efficiently, and be more resilient under adverse conditions.
Limitations to Building-Out a DER Smart Grid
Traditionally, utilities have used a specific set of grid sensing, control, and automation functions tailored to the electric grid application space. The majority of these systems are rooted in aging technologies. Because utilities only replace technology products every few decades, the existing grid system lags behind today’s Internet-based systems. Consequently, utilities have been slow to adopt cloud-based approaches. Instead, they transfer data from grid devices to their existing Distribution Automation head-end systems for operations, even if devices support cloud connectivity.
This results in an infrastructure that is dominated by legacy and proprietary systems, with a historical reluctance to adapt to new, open, standards-based paradigms:
• Connecting new line sensors to Distribution Automation head-end systems, so that existing infrastructure can be utilized and leveraged;
• Bringing sensing for DER to the cloud, to take advantage of the benefits of modern cloud platforms;
• Maintaining grid security to levels recommended in NISTIR 7628 Guidelines for Smart Grid Cybersecurity.
IIoT Application Gateways
A solution to these factors has been realized with the introduction of new industrial IoT application gateway technology. These new gateways provide a rich set of edge functionality, improving how utilities monitor critical grid data in environments such as substations and medium-voltage distribution networks. They enhance traditional monitoring systems, and increase reliability and grid capacity.
Connecting Line Sensors to Legacy Systems
Augmenting the existing grid infrastructure with application gateways enables older assets to meet the required performance of real-time, smart-grid applications.
Pushing Data in Real Time
Distribution Automation has relied on the centralized polling of sensor data. This results in significant latency and limited ability to scale. These IIoT gateways gather sensor data locally, create data models, perform analytics, and share the results using secure Internet connectivity methodologies, all while maintaining connectivity with existing Distribution Automation solutions.
Leveraging Cellular Infrastructure
Historically, connectivity to Distribution and Automation systems has been done using narrowband, non-IP-based, transparent private wireless networks. Extending traditional legacy polling over cellular was accomplished with secure tunneled IP-encapsulated polls through a cellular modem. IIoT gateways enable grid monitoring devices to take full advantage of cellular connectivity.
 UL 508A NEMA 4 Enclosures
• Simple Installation and Connectivity
• Multiple Circuit Breaker Protection Options • WattNode Energy Meter can be Preinstalled
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