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Cellular And the Smart Grid

Cellular And the Smart Grid

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Published by: amitjain310 on Mar 28, 2012
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September 2011, IDC Energy Insights #EI230124
Cellular and the Smart Grid: A Brand-NewDay
WHITE PAPERSponsored by: QualcommMarcus Torchia Usman SindhuSeptember 2011
IDC ENERGY INSIGHTS OPINION
Commercial cellular solutions play an increasingly visible role insmart grid deployments, which use the technology to ensure datadelivery, security, and accessibility for utility applications. Cellular iswidely used as a backhaul technology in the utility space, yet businessand technical developments position cellular to support advancedsmart grid applications such as distribution automation, smartmetering, and home energy management.Commercial cellular viability in the smart grid has advanced due toseveral factors:
 
Cellular carriers have launched smart grid
 – 
specific servicesolutions and priced services to win market share.
 
In growing numbers, power equipment manufacturers nativelysupport cellular connectivity.
 
Cellular-based smart grid network solutions meet and beatperformance and reliability expectations.Commercial cellular solutions possess strengths compared withalternative wide area networks (WANs) and neighborhood areanetworks (NANs), including:
 
Use of licensed spectrum to ensure network performance andextensibility
 
Mature technology providing true broadband performance
 
Proven scale to support tens of millions of devices and openindustry standards compliance in hardware and softwareCommercial cellular can also address reliability and security concernswith enabling device technology. Multimode cellular modules allowdevices to connect to multiple networks, bringing ubiquitous coverageone step closer to reality. At the same time, strong device and network security services provide assurances such as data integrity andconfidentiality.
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Page 2 #EI230124 ©2011 IDC Energy Insights
This white paper contains practical examples of cellular used in smartgrid deployments at Duke Energy, Texas New Mexico Power,ECOtality, and CPS Energy that demonstrate the flexibility, widerange of applications, and innovative ways utilities utilize commercialcellular solutions for smart grid applications.
IN THIS WHITE PAPER
In this IDC Energy Insights White Paper, we review drivers for theincreased adoption of commercial cellular in smart grid applicationsand how commercial cellular network technology meets utilityrequirements. Finally, brief case studies of the practical uses of commercial cellular demonstrate the adoption and flexibility enjoyedby utilities today.
SITUATION OVERVIEW
The utility industry continues to innovate with the collective push toautomate greater portions of the electric grid. By overlaying informationand communications technologies (ICT) onto the grid, the industry hasgiven birth to the notion of a "smart grid." Applications supportingprograms for energy efficiency, reliability, and new revenue sourcesinclude demand response (verification), plug-in electric vehicle (PEV)charging (to signal an optimal charging period), smart metering (outagedetection and restoration confirmation), small-scale renewablegeneration (distribution harmonization), and dynamic pricing analytics(market purchase optimization), to name a few.The smart grid requires near-real-time, accurate, reliable, and securedata from the field to enable optimization of operational systems andautomated market functions.In the effort to automate greater portions of the distribution grid,utilities face a new set of challenges upgrading communicationnetworks, deploying devices, and installing management software.Central command and control network design is giving way todistributed intelligence at the edge of an expanding network of smartdevices. The mixture of devices includes line sensors, smart meters,power control modules, routers, charging stations, renewablegeneration units, remote terminal units (RTUs), and more. In thisenvironment, communication networks play the critical role of ensuring data delivery, security, and accessibility.Smart grid builds on top of the communication networking capabilitiesplaced between the substation and the meter. The utility ICTinfrastructure supporting a smart grid encompasses a heterogeneousnetwork environment, which includes fiber, microwave, Ethernet,cellular, PLC, and even satellite.
 
 
 ©2011 IDC Energy Insights #EI230124 Page 3
WANs and NANs become critical infrastructure for connecting themyriad of field devices. Since wireless networks enjoy distinct cost,deployment, and maintenance advantages over wireline networks,impressive growth for wireless network solutions has resulted.Increasingly, the viability of cellular network 
 – 
based services isbecoming evident to utilities.
Carriers Driving Change and Adoption
Cellular communication service providers (wireless carriers) haveserviced the utility industry for over 20 years. Service offeringsrevolved around basic network access and data transport forcommercial and industrial (C&I) revenue meters and select remotetransmission and distribution (T&D) devices. However, wirelesscarriers began to compete in the U.S. smart grid market four to fiveyears ago. Utilities embraced the offerings with dispassion as thecarriers offered a suboptimal value proposition that did not addressutility and regulatory concerns for network security, control, andaffordability.Since that time, national wireless carriers responded to the utilitymarket with a greater breadth of competitive offerings, winningservice contracts as a result.The drivers for increased adoption and viability of cellular for smartgrid include:
 
Attractive pricing.
Wireless carriers have aggressively loweredprices to increase the value proposition compared with alternativeprivate network solutions. For example, high-volume machine-to-machine (M2M) service contracts hovered at $10+ per month perdevice in 2008, dropping below $0.50 per month per device by 2010.
 
Supported hardware.
Transformers, line sensors, gateways, smartmeters, and a number of other devices from multiple vendorsnatively support cellular in hardware configurations.
 
Proven reliability
in large-scale deployments. Cellular is areliable link in advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) networks.IDC Energy Insights estimates that close to 90% of endpointssupported by wireless mesh networks use public cellular networksfor backhaul.
 
Smart grid service offerings.
National wireless carriers launcheda number of core services including network access, security, anddata management, as well as emerging application services such asmeter-to-cash management and transformer monitoring.

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