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Smart grid standards: Why are they needed and how will they work?

Chuck Adams

The development, launch and impact of the smart grid is headline news in many countries across the globe. But this begs the question: How is this really going to work? The truth is, in order for the smart grid to be successful there needs to be a set of well-established standards in place that all industries and organizations involved can utilize.

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The effort to standardize the smart gird is an immense, global initiative crossing the public, private and corporate sectors. Standardizing the smart grid impacts all aspects of technology, ranging from consumer to commercial. Smart grid technologies have a bearing on appliances talking to one another, homes and offices talking to the utility companies, as well as regenerative power. Standards development work is imperative in the near term because it is bringing together communities and regulatory authorities to lay the foundation for the growth of the smart grid. We have one chance to bring everyone together to create a common point of entry and make this work.

This situation bears a striking resemblance to the advent of the Internet. There is a massive need to integrate the technology and the network — to create a new platform upon which the smart grid can operate not only nationally but globally, as well. In order for this integration to occur, we need consistent power architecture. This architectural framework is already being developed, with a goal for it to be finalized by the year 2030. The only way for this to happen — and for the integration to continue to evolve for the next 20 years — is through consistent standards that all entities adhere to across the board.

As part of this effort, in September 2009 the National Institute of Standards Technology released its framework and road map for smart grid interoperability standards. The road map identified standards needed to address the priorities identified in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Policy Statement plus four additional items representing crosscutting needs or major areas of near-term investment by utilities. The priority areas are:

  • Demand response and consumer energy efficiency
  • Wide-area situational awareness
  • Electric storage
  • Electric transportation
  • Advanced metering infrastructure
  • Distribution grid management
  • Cyber security
  • Network communications

NIST was able to address these priority areas and create a road map because it was able to bring together organizations, such as IEEE, that represent a diverse group of stakeholders, members and companies to ensure that the standards are viable, scalable and will be universally accepted.

At the end of the day, it’s all about standards. If we get that right at the onset, we create an ecosystem for the development of technologies that will thrive in the present and future. It is necessary to allow industry to take the technology to the marketplace and for the technology to be adopted and accepted. Equally, the educational process, by which we show leaders around the world how to implement and utilize the standards, will ensure that all stakeholders around the globe are closely engaged in the initiative — and, more importantly, that it works.

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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