Grid Modernization 101
TThe U.S. power grid has fueled the nation’s growth over the past 100 years but now is aging and being asked to do far more than it was originally designed for. Utility grids as currently built won’t be able to meet the demands of future customers, and they are not able to take advantage of technological advances that will enable new efficiencies and profit centers. Technology innovators, as well as utilities themselves, are working to develop the tools and technologies needed to measure, analyze, predict, protect and control the grid of the future.
The Old Grid:
- Utilities cannot see all activity on all parts of the grid in real-time, especially adverse conditions that can cause potential harm and/or service outages
The Modern Grid:
- Control-center Operations and Grid Line managers need to mitigate or reduce power outage scenarios before incidents happen
- Electric operators need fast-switching capabilities when connecting distributed generators if some units need to go offline and others come online within seconds
- Utilities are looking for cost-effective ways to manage the digitalization of the grid
Private LTE (PLTE) networks with private, licensed spectrum are able to provide secure communications for improved operational awareness and control. A PLTE network provides customized network capacity and geographic coverage to meet the unique needs of each utility as it is dedicated wholly to the needs of the utility and not shared with others. The full control of a PLTE network also enables utilities to recovery from grid disruptions much more quickly.
LTE, as a wireless technology, is ideally suited for the needs of a utility’s grid modernization strategy as it is designed for mobility and outdoor operation with propagation advantages from low-band spectrum bands. Connected devices controlling the electric distribution system are used to increase system performance. Additionally, as a broadly adopted global wireless standard, device availability for LTE is very strong.
PLTE – THE COMMUNICATIONS FOUNDATION FOR GRID MODERNIZATION
Wireless broadband PLTE provides foundational communications for the modern grid. Complex transmission and distribution systems need continuous reporting to centralized locations for monitoring and management of all parts of the grid. Comprehensive utility industry innovation requires coordinated and connected communications solutions. Digitization of utility operations is driving the need for exponential growth of connected devices.
Distributed Energy Resources (DER) and Renewables are changing the dynamic from one-way flow on the grid to multi-directional, requiring greater control and awareness. Decentralized generation and electrical storage at the edge are reshaping utility economics and opening new opportunities for utilities.
The opportunities within a modernized grid are enormous, including:
- Automated meters connected throughout the grid for real-time awareness and energy consumption
- Workforce mobility applications for worker productivity gains and safety coverage
- Connected drones to safely monitor and inspect generation and transmission assets
- Self-healing grid applications for operational and service improvements
- Voltage (active power) and VAR (voltage-amp reactive) control
- Managing renewables and clean-energy generation flowing into the grid
- Wildfire mitigation and reduction of other environmental negative impacts
The modern grid will help integrate all sources of electricity better, improve the security of utility grids, solve challenges of energy storage and distributed generation, and provide a critical platform for U.S. competitiveness and innovation in a global energy economy. The grid of the future will deliver resilient, reliable, flexible, secure, sustainable and affordable electricity.
THE GRID OF THE FUTURE, TOMORROW
As utilities work feverishly to modernize their grids to meet customer needs—as well as to take on potential cyber threats—they will be looking to the members of the Anterix Active Ecosystem to deliver technological advances. From adding efficiency to enabling more accurate billing, the opportunities to assist utilities and end customers is simply enormous.
Anterix is architecting a new foundation that enables the modernization of critical infrastructure for energy, transportation, logistics and others. Help us spread the word.