The trend toward cleaner energy and a green approach to power consumption has led a number of companies and utilities to take a closer look at the potential of smart grid communications networks. To help guide the process, Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert) worked with Government Technology to produce a “How-To Guide” on the proper development, management and security of smart grid networks.
Their efforts were then organized in a white paper, Creating your Smart Grid - a How-To Guide, offering considerable insight into elements that must be considered before making the move to the Smart Grid. A previous article looked at a high-level at the critical role the communications network can/will/should play in the successful implementation of smart grids. Here we’ll take a look from the communications network perspective at the importance of:
- Securing the network
- Managing the network
- Realizing green energy and deploying the network within the Smart Grid framework
Securing the network
Given their importance in the overall infrastructure for a society, utilities are more likely to be targeted by cyberattacks or other security threats. The Smart Grid demands a strong focus on cybersecurity and the federal government continues to increase its efforts through the North American Electric Reliability Corporation Critical Infrastructure Protection (NERC (News - Alert) CIP) regulations.
To truly ensure the security of the network in the Smart Grid environment, Alcatel-Lucent recommends the creation of security on an end-to-end basis, while providing access to the network both early and often. A mitigation risk strategy helps drive essential analysis and security should be implemented into the design. Availability must be ensured and traffic should be isolated at all times.
Knowing who is on the network and protecting privacy are also critical factors to make sure the network is secure. Data should always be encrypted and access to the network should always be controlled. It’s also important to implement the right tools to make sure suspicious activity, viruses and other threats can easily be detected.
Managing the network
The management of the network within the Smart Grid environment is also a critical piece. Part of this process is to study the interdependencies of the Smart Grid. Skipping this step could lead to failure in the success of the Smart Grid. The use of an Operations Support System (OSS) is also critical as it helps to make sure operational procedures are consistently followed.
Leaders can also make better decisions when real-time data is captured and correlated according to the needs of the organization and the proper management of the Smart Grid. Once these tools are firmly in place, it’s time to realize green energy and manage the benefits.
Realization of green energy
The realization of green energy comes from maximizing consolidation, making real-time decisions, supporting renewable energy, and storing energy. All of these elements are critical to the success of a smart grid deployment. With a clear-cut strategy in place to support and integrate the initiative, the network team can then set the stage to extend capabilities for deployment.
At this point, it’s important to set the network as a whole, understand the interaction between networks, complete interoperability testing and engage a network integrator. The integrator works like the general contractor on a new home build, managing the process according to the needs specified in the plan and managing the vendors (or sub-contractors) involved to achieve the overarching goals and support communications technology.
Edited by Peter Bernstein