- May 21, 2021 4:28 pm GMT
This item is part of the Grid Modernization - May 2021 SPECIAL ISSUE, click here for more
The destination is the journey is a saying that has fueled wanderlust for generations. But that wisdom goes beyond road-trip adventures and finds real insight in, of all things, Grid Modernization efforts in the US.
The very nature of Grid Modernization dictates that there isn’t an end state where we celebrate our final successes and catalog accomplishments for posterity’s sake. In reality, we’re developing systems that will require input and management for generations to come.
And yet, Grid Modernization is critically important. As extreme weather events become more common, there is a clear need for a grid that can contend with and respond to these incidents. As environmental circumstances change, the need to address how the electric grid serves those new requirements is evident. As customer’s behavior and demand evolves, load requirements may be drastically impacted. Some regulatory changes will require modernization with little room for interpretation. As new threats emerge in the critical and complex security realm, a grid that can withstand cyber and physical attacks will be essential. Make no mistake - evolving utilities’ business realities dictate a need for modernization.
The legitimacy and trajectory of modernizing the grid is well established. While “Grid Modernization” has grown into a catch-all phrase, the intent of the efforts remains consistent – utilizing digital technology to match the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity with the ever-changing needs of consumers. The lifeblood of much of this new technology is data.
Our industry made incredible advancements in the realm of algorithms making sense of that onslaught of data and human interpretation of that information to make smarter decisions. But there’s information and intelligence that’s untapped and required for real progress in Grid Modernization initiatives.
These informed systems need proven technologies that offer control over ever growing amounts of data from far-reaching sites.
There are three specific characteristics of Private LTE that make it the right communications network for Grid Modernization. First, electric utilities need wireless communications that are capable and economically justified to extend the reach of existing networks, including leveraging existing investment made in fiber and other wired technologies. Justification is quickly challenged with a fully wired network because of these extreme costs. Endpoints of all types, and with exponentially growing volume need to be freed of hardwired constraints.
Second, Private LTE is based on the well proven technology of LTE, which remains capable of advancement and growth. LTE – the technology that has enabled your phone and other devices -- stands for “Long Term Evolution”. Grid Modernization will evolve and a recognized approach to communications to meet those new needs will be critical. LTE promises to continue to do just that.
Lastly, electric utilities need control over the network that handles their information because it’s too important to be left in someone else’s hands. Private LTE allows for prioritization of traffic and ownership of Quality of Service. Electric utilities cannot remain beholden to other’s coverage maps. Further, decisions around deployment are unencumbered by per device costs.
Grid Modernization is here to stay and data is the fuel that will maximize our collective efforts’ impacts. As an ongoing opportunity, the communications network that allows for the transfer of that data will be a major differentiator in Grid Modernization for utilities with the foresight to utilize Private LTE.
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