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IP Migration Picking Up Speed among Utilities

Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

A few years ago, the idea of a smart grid and things such as smart metering was the stuff of science fiction. But thanks to recent innovations, a utility that is not working on a migration to IP is behind the curve.

In this second of a three-part series on the value of the migration utility infrastructure to IP as the means to enable and enhance the value of smart grids, we look at an expert’s view of the challenges as highlighted in a recent GridTalk posting by Bart Vrancken, utilities solutions architect at Alcatel-Lucent, who noted, “Utilities telecom used to be very simple, handled in the background with a very small team…The explosive growth in intelligent grid devices with communication capabilities was not foreseen at all several years back. But now we see numerous examples of customers deploying these technologies.”

IP Network Investments Enable Enhanced Smart Grid Value

Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

The future of the smart grid looks bright. Innovations such as IP/MPLS network connectivity and the desirability to all potential stakeholders in smart cities projects have helped propel smart grid spending in general and investment in the enabling networks. In addition, government programs such as the U. S. Smart Grid Investment Grant Program have pumped $7.8 billion into smart grid systems with accelerated activities taking place around the world. In fact, driven initially by government stimulus, investments by the electric power industry in IP technology is accelerating, with US$200 trillion projected in global expenditures by 2030.

In short, the networking piece of smart grid deployments is critical, as the migration of utility infrastructure to meet the needs to remotely monitor and manage their grids grows in complexity.  “The new IP/MPLS technologies offer a great deal of benefits within the utility in cost savings, operational efficiency and cost savings, and they also mandate a new way to operate, bridging those traditional organizational silos,” noted Mark Burke, VP of Intelligent Networks and Communications for DNV – GL, in a recent GridTalk posting.

IP/MPLS-Based Networks Provide Unique Value for Smart Grid Initiatives


By Beecher Tuttle

Skyrocketing energy demands and the push for greener, more sustainable energy solutions has helped bring smart grids to prominence, and has encourage a number of utilities to deploy a next-generation network alongside their electrical grid.

AltaLink, one of Canada's largest electricity transmission providers, is one of the utilities that is currently undergoing the complex, yet highly advantageous transition from a TDM architecture to a next-generation IP-based network.

Overcoming Smart Grid Challenges to Realize Key Benefits


By Susan Campbell

The ever-increasing demand for energy has created the need for the development of the Smart Grid. This efficient approach to energy management and consumption will change the way we produce, consume and recycle energy. The efficient operation of the Smart Grid will be a long time in coming, however, as many challenges still exist to complete implementation and adoption.

According to a recent Alcatel-Lucent article, Dealing with the Smart Grid’s Key Drivers and Challenges, the future of smart grids includes significant changes to the way we live, work and play. It is expected to impact the business landscape, the energy marketplace and the ways in which we interact both culturally and socially.

Ensuring the Future of the Smart Grid


By Susan Campbell

Our growing reliance on energy has sparked a new focus on how to make consumption more efficient. The Smart Grid has emerged as an important focus in this space, projected to impact the business landscape, the energy marketplace and even the ways in which we interact.

According to a recent Alcatel-Lucent article, EPB Chattanooga: Customers at the Center of the Smart Grid’s Future, smart grids will also enhance convenience and control within the industrialized world while positive social progress is enabled in developing countries. The level of skill with which energy providers are able to manage change will determine when and how well the benefits of smart grid technology will gain traction.

The Future Economy of the Smart Grid


By Erin Harrison 

With the world’s overall energy demand increasing by what seems to be the hour, deployment of smart grids presents new opportunities for utilities and service providers – but first they need to weigh all the factors involved in the future of smart grid.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), global energy demand is expected to rise by nearly 40 percent between now and 2035, as cited in a recent Alcatel-Lucent article, “Anticipating the Future’s Smart Grid Economy.”

Power utilities are indeed presented with new revenue opportunities, but they need to determine how they fit in to the future Smart Grid.

The Social Impact of the Future Smart Grid

By Erin Harrison

While much progress has been made with today’s smart grid, the smart grid of the future will impact our business landscape, the energy marketplace and the ways in which we interact socially and culturally.

The smart grid’s largest social impact will be seen in developing nations, notes Christine Hertzog, managing director of the Smart Grid Library, in a posting “Managing Change for the Smart Grid.” Hertzog states that approximately 2.4 billion people of the world live in energy poverty – what she terms a “permanent blackout.”

In addition, the smart grid will enhance control and convenience in the industrialized world while allowing for social progress in developing nations, according to smart grid experts. When and how well these benefits gain traction will depend on how skillfully today’s energy providers manage change.


Integrated Communications Addresses Smart Grid Challenges for Improving Energy Efficiency


By Beecher Tuttle

Ever-increasing energy consumption, skyrocketing operating costs and pressure from regulatory bodies to help create a greener world have forced power utilities to reassess their delivery management methods.

The need for change – along with the recent influx of innovative network technologies – has led many utilities and distribution and system operators (TDSOs) to embrace the smart grid, a concept aimed at leveraging the power of next-generation networks to improve the efficiency and reliability of energy delivery and usage. The visibility and control provided by the smart grid enables utilities to match supply and demand, optimize delivery, cut operating costs and reduce carbon emissions.

In addition, a smart grid opens up a two-way communication system between utilities and customers, thus creating additional upsell opportunities and the ability for consumers to take a hands-on approach to energy conservation. Smart grid customers have access to their own webpage that details their energy consumption and the associated costs.

Deploying a smart energy grid is vital for utilities to thrive in the current environment, but it doesn't come without complications. TDSOs need to chose the appropriate technologies, understand their network requirements and make major decisions like if they should build their own communications infrastructure or lease it from a service provider.

Many of these questions can be answered by Alcatel-Lucent, whose Integrated Communications for Power Utilities solution is a proven way to take utilities into the 21st century of energy delivery and efficiency.

With its experience designing and deploying IP and LTE broadband wireless access networks, Alcatel-Lucent has a unique perspective on what is needed to get a smart grid initiative up and running.

Smart Choices: Establishing a Solid Foundation for an Effective, Future-Ready Smart Metering System

Smart metering solutions provide power companies with a new, evolutionary way of monitoring and controlling power consumption in a real-time environment. Properly implemented solutions will not only create efficiencies on power grids, but can deliver financial benefits to utilities, who will have deeper insight into and control over their power networks.
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