Upgrading from “grid” to “smart grid” comes with many benefits to utilities and consumers alike. Although grid modernization is not big news in 2023, what might be a bit surprising are some of the driving factors behind this push toward digitalization. And one critical element of the process that is sometimes overlooked – your underlying communications network – needs to be on solid ground.
We are here to tell you – without a flexible, agile, future-proof, SMART network underlying your grid, you are going to run into big problems. And we can help you get ahead of those issues before they even begin to materialize. But first things first.
SHIFTS IN DEMAND FOR UTILITIES
So, what are the factors driving the digital transformation in the utilities sector? Like any other industry, for a utility – whether it be electric, gas, or water – to thrive in the digital age means the company must meet consumer and stakeholder expectations for efficiency and real-time communication capabilities. Check out how Yuba Water Agency, just north of Sacramento, decided to work with us to 1.) modernize their utility communications; 2.) increase their existing network capacity and reliability; 3.) deliver enhanced customer support and services; and 4.) increase operation efficiencies.
Additional shifting demands we are seeing in the utility space include:
- Consumer access to clean energy and renewable resources
- More options and grid flexibility with decentralized, distributed energy resources (DERs) and microgrids
- More incoming data to process including IIoT sensors, video surveillance streams, field management communications, and drone data to enable next-generation analytics
- Improved reliability – drastically reducing the chance of outages with real-time identification of potential problems before they become catastrophes
- Cutting costs and unnecessary waste with improved monitoring efficiencies and reduced peak demand
- Improved physical safety of utility employees and fleet, as well as stronger cyber security and protection parameters
- Streamlined data, uniformity in operations, and centralized real-time communications
- Ubiquitous connectivity and the recombination of technology allowing for centralized access to what were once siloed systems and tools – such as IP-SCADA, distributed energy resources management systems (DERMS), outage management, and advanced distribution management software (ADMS).
Simply put, like all other purchased commodities such as cell phone service or wi-fi access, utilities must digitize and modernize now to keep consumers happy and their overall operational costs down far into the future.
EMPOWERING UTILITIES WITH END-TO-END NETWORKS
We will get right to the point here – there will be no “smart grid” without a communications utility network upgrade backing it up. As you digitize your grid’s infrastructure, you first need to ensure that these new advanced assets you’re adding will “talk” to one another. And with the digital transformation comes an enormous influx of data you are about to take on. You are going to need more bandwidth and more network intelligence to support and process all this valuable data effectively. There are many use cases where utilities will need an advanced network to support their smart infrastructure. Some include:
- Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)
- Field Area Networks (FAN)
- Distribution Automation (DA)
- Video Surveillance
- Utility Cybersecurity
- Push to Talk Radio (PPT)
- Employee & Asset Connectivity, Fleet Management
- Electric Vehicles & Charging Stations
- Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Internet of Things (IoT)
- Drone, Machine Learning/AI, DER, and Sensor Connectivity
- Big Data
- Dynamic Dispatch and Demand Response
- Digital Twin Technology
Utilities across the world share the same goal – to ensure continuous, reliable, and stable flow of power and/or critical resources at all times. It is therefore essential to have next-generation visibility and asset performance management in place to ensure a highly reliable grid.
CERAGON – BRINGING BRILLIANT CONNECTIVITY
Digitization of these new, highly complex utility systems require very high capacity, low latency, and highly reliable networks. And these networks build the foundation upon which all assets, management, and control applications rely.
You will need to carefully plan, deploy, or upgrade the right end-to-end network infrastructure, or combination of infrastructures, to ensure success within your smart grid. From hybrid fiber optic/wireless smart grid connectivity and Private LTE (PLTE, 4G) to 5G and access technologies like Wi-Fi, you need a partner who can look at your utility needs from all angles, holistically, and offer the best possible paths forward, ensuring BRILLIANT CONNECTIVITY for years to come.
Download our Smart Utility Application Note for a deeper dive into network infrastructure options and how we at Ceragon can help you take your utility operations from “smart” to “brilliant.”