Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Smart Grid Survey

Oracle Utilities released its first survey C-level utility executives in March 2010. The Smart Grid Challenges & Choices Report surveyed 152 North American utility executives to understand their vision for the next 10 years , how they expect the smart grid to evolve our communities and homes and what challenges and opportunities lie ahead.
Of the 152 executives is that 53% are from the United States and 47% from Canada . Their roles or job titles are that of Owner/Partner, CEO, President, CFO, Principal, General Manager, Managing Director etc.
In the post I shall only focus on two surveys among others that were conducted , they are :
1. Priorities for the next decade.
There is a tie for the first place between improving service reliability and controlling customers costs . The data from the survey is as follows
Improving service reliability and operational efficiency (40%)
Controlling customer costs and limiting rate increases (40%)
Developing demand response and energy efficiency programs (33%)
Updating physical infrastructure (29%)
Implementing smart metering (26%)
2. Smart Grid Predictions : Those implementing Smart Grid : What do you think will take off fastest with customers ?
According to the survey smart grid
In home displays for real time usage cost data. (68%)
Smart appliances (41%)
Mobile device portals. (36%)
Distributed energy resources. (20%)
Electricity storage. (12%)
References :
Caroline Yu and Janice Hazen.
Oracle Utilities , Smart Grid Challenges and Choices Part2 :
North American Utility Executives
s real time usage and cost data is expected to be the most popular with customers. The data from the survey is as follows. Visions and Priorities

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Ofcom delays 4G mobile auctions

Ofcom delays 4G mobile auctions
The auction would sell off a huge chunk of the available spectrum equivalent to three quarters of the mobile spectrum in use today.

However, Ofcom has said it would cap how much of the spectrum firms can buy to ensure the mobile market stays competitive.

The bands being sold are the 800MHz and 2.6 Ghz frequencies which also includes parts of the frequencies used by analogue TV which is being switched off as digital TV is rolled out.

This extra spectrum will be used to support 4G mobile technologies which will mean among other things higher download speeds and better web browsing.

Vodafone released a statement “ We agree with Ofcom that there is time for reflection given that the spectrum will not be available until 2013 . It is very important to get the rules right to ensure that the rollout of 4G services benefits consumers and the wider economy.”

On the hand, the other mobile operator Three was the auction to take place earlier and it has voiced fears that it would run out of room in its 3G network.


Sunday, 19 June 2011

Integrated Critical Communications Infrastructure for Smart Grid

Integrated Critical Communications Infrastructure for Smart Grid at Connectivity Week

On the 25th May 2011 at the Connectivity Week conference in Santa Clara, California USA , there was a very informative session and the main focus was on wireless networks to be used for Smart Grid Critical Communications.

“ Critical communications infrastructure that supports the likes of military , emergency services and law enforcement is protected to serve the public good and is not subject to everyday market focus.

Electricity is a strategic asset for all modern economics and adequate safeguards are needed to protect grid in much the same way.

One way of doing this is to allow utilities to share the dedicated spectrum and radio frequencies that support that support essential services.

The purpose of this session is to elucidate the rationale for utilities use of wireless to send and receive critical communications related to Smart Grid. “ [ Allan Weissberger ]

The key characteristics of the Critical Communications Infrastructure as highlighted by Kat Shoa from The Directive Group are :

    Supports military , emergency response and law enforcement
    Fundamental to public safety during emergencies
    Spans broad geographical areas
    QoS of utmost importance  Public vs. private networks  Security : physical security , data security  Integration / deployment timelines

Howard Liu , Network Architect , Southern California Edison (SCE)

His presentation shed light to what cutting edge utility has done to build and operate its own network.

His suggestions were :

               Utilities have to build their own integrated communications network for applications eg. Disaster recovery
                       They have to develop a road map for executing their network strategy
                       An integrating different sub-networks as a key issue

The other key points highlighted by Howard were :

SCEnet has been performing well for over 15 years SCE’s Unified Communications Architecture anticipates all enterprise communications needs

SCE’s Integrated Critical Communications Infrastructure has a vision of a Layered Communications Architecture

Utilities had to build their own Integrated Critical Infrastructure for Critical Applications

SCE will consider complementing that with a Telco company going forward


Thursday, 2 June 2011

Five Simple Ways to Tap Your Greatest Power

Five Simple Ways to Tap Your Greatest Power

Consumers may be the greatest untapped resource a utility has in the move towards the smart grid . Customers can be empowered to manage their own energy consumption and make behavioural changes that are favourable towards energy management. The potential for energy savings are enormous for both utilities and consumers.

One of the biggest challenges may very well be getting customers to change their energy consumption behaviours . Fortunately , recent studies have shown that consumers want to go green. Home owners in focus groups conducted by Green Research responded favourably to the idea that better information would give them greater control over their energy use

There are five basic principles that utilities can employ that can help turn customers into a great source of power .

Namely they are :

1. Educate

Utilities simply need to educate consumers of all opportunities the smart grid provides and how variable pricing and smart meters will arm them with the information they need to actively manage and reduce their energy costs.

2. Engage

Getting the customers attention and holding it by giving them a compelling reason to be involved in a conservation as a partner right from the start. By encouraging to take part in making a difference in not only their own energy output but that of the larger community as a whole will ultimately get consumers engaged in the bigger cause of energy efficiency.

3. Empower

The smart grid will allow consumers unprecedented access to their homes real time electricity usage information . Thus , customers will feel empowered by having control over their own energy usage and output as well as what they pay on a monthly basis.

4. Emphasize

Utilities need to emphasize that the smart grid can help them respond more efficiently to variable power production introduced by renewable sources , power outages and ultimately build fewer and decrease the use of carbon based power plants.

5. Equip

Utilities should provide the best option and tools to make home energy management possible. User friendly smart meters and home energy management systems with high tech flashy features will be important in attracting early adaptors who can be key influencers within the customer base. Giving customers what they want will ultimately benefit the utility by driving profits up and saving energy in peak demand periods.



Friday, 8 April 2011

Cellular Technology for Remote Monitoring

Cellular Technology for Remote Monitoring

So far in this blog I have touched on the Smart Grid and the BMS. In this post I would like to cover some areas of cellular technology that is available and used today.
In the field of industrial automation , remote monitoring and alarm systems are used to keep site administrators informed on things such as equipment health , usage levels eg. fuel , environment conditions and unauthorised intrusion. The remote data collection devices are typically connected to a management or control centre over RS - 485 or the Ethernet which also depends on factors such as the distance and the type of management systems. BACnet , ModBus and LonWorks  are some of the management systems that are in use for monitoring and automation purposes. In many cases , the Ethernet connection can be replaced or augmented with cellular technology.

The use of cellular communications has some advantages  like being wireless which means no stringing cables over long distances , ability to connect to your remote site from any locations and any number of locations , have options to connect to your remote sites by cell phone or PDA , the infrastructure is already provided by the cellular service provider which means savings in costs and hassle, and it is also easier and a cost effective way to monitor a greater number of sites and locations.

The cellular connections can be established in data communications by installing a cellular modem or a cellular module with modem functions if your control component at the remote site communicates over a serial interface. The disadvantages are low bandwidth and low speed transmission , potentially high recurring costs due to per - minute cellular charges and the cumbersome configuration and application development for modem communications.

However, the cellular IP modem which connects to the on-site PLC or embedded computer over a serial line is a far better option. Using an IP address the 2G cellular technology allows the monitoring centre to connect to the device over the Internet. It does not require a separate modem at the monitoring centre , the remote PLC or embedded computer can be treated as a network device or as a physically attached serial device and it has potentially lower recurring costs due to per-data-packet cellular charges.

A cellular connection can be established through a cellular router in remote monitoring equipment that relies on Ethernet for communications.
 The cellular router when combined with an intelligent I/O module can be lightweight and a cost -effective alternative to using PLCs.

Cellular technology can be used for remote monitoring of power plants and other industrial plant whereby there are generators , UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supplies) etc. and we need to monitor the fuel levels, and basically remote monitoring of the building management systems.

  • A GSM modem is installed on to the system and is linked to all essential equipment requiring monitoring.
  • The servers constantly monitors your system and records all essential data and specified alarms.
  • Any alarm generated is immediately elevated to an alert status and automatically transmit’s an alarm message via SMS to your mobile or via email.
  • A service team could also be notified of the alarm and after analysing the data they will despatch an Engineer to correct any faults.
  • This is available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

Cellular technology has a niche in remote monitoring  and we can still be aware of system status by receiving the SMS from the service team and also by logging into the web portal of the remote monitoring systems.


Saturday, 19 March 2011

Building Management System


The Building Management System (BMS) is a computer -based control system installed in buildings that controls and monitors the building’s mechanical and electrical equipment  etc. such as ventilation, lighting, power systems , fire systems, sprinkler systems , access control systems , energy management systems and security  systems. A BMS consists of hardware and software , the software program  usually configured in a hierarchical manner can be proprietary using such protocols as C-bus, Profibus and so on. Many vendors are also producing BMS that integrate using Internet Protocols open standards such as DeviceNet, SOAP, XMC , BACnet ,Lon Works , OPC , Advanced DDE and Modbus.

The BMS plays its part in optimizing building performance , improving building control , improving energy and operating efficiency  and lower lifecycle costs of the highly automated industrial and commercial buildings.
I have managed to compile some data from the Honeywell website which a leader in BMS technology and another company called Systems Control Limited.

 The  BMS description and features  :

  • Is an high end intelligent building controller
  • An essential tool in the fine tuning of internal operations of building of any size
  • Has an ability to automate buildings ‘ access control , air-conditioning ,lighting , survelliance and security.
  • It eliminates headache for the managers and personnels and creates a more comfortable , secure and energy efficient work place.
  • Building control technology make building more comfortable, safer , secure and efficient.
  • Control solutions are designed to solve unique challenges from communicating commercial thermostats that can be programmed and changed remotely to a full range of advanced HVAC , energy lighting , security , access , fire and life safety and industrial process controls.
  • HVAC controls provides convenient single - point monitoring and control the building’s HVAC , lighting , energy management and environmental controls.
  • High performance digital control  systems helps improve the facility’s indoor environment while cutting energy and equipment costs and features sequences of operations.
  • Provides centralized alarming and card holder management features including a fully integrated photo ID badging system.
  • Customizes graphic displays to improve critical information management 
  • Interfaces with third party CCTV controller  
  • Integrates with time and attendance files and human resources , financial and inventory management databases
  • Provides comprehensive standards and customized reports

The latest technology in the form of the Smart BMS and Intelligent Buildings will be easily integrated with the Smart Grid and mobile telecommunications.


Thursday, 10 March 2011

Smart Meter

Smart Meter
In this post I would like to highlight the smart meter which is also an integral part of the Smart Grid infrastructure. The smart meters are making its way to all household in the near future. The UK government has unveiled its plans to equip all homes in Britian by 2020. It is estimated that 22 million gas meters and 26 million electric meters are to be fitted at £7 billion pounds.

The system architecture of a smart meter shall allow remote two way communications from head end systems to the local system through the WAN (Wide Area Network) via a local comms hub. This comms hub combines local and remote communicating technology. This system may also include an IHD (In Home Display) that may communicate with each meter and/or the comms hub. Such local communications are via a Home Area Network (HAN). The system shall support multiple gas and electricity meters (up to 4 supply meters) and shall also support a single fuel meter configurations. In the scenario where there are multiple meters, there will be one IHD.

The long term benefits of the smart meters are :

  • More modern approach 
  • No estimated reading
  • Accurate billing
  • No need for a meter reader to visit the home or for the customer to take their own reading.


Thursday, 3 March 2011

SIP for Smart Grid Communications

SIP for Smart Grid Communications

The are certain requirements for a communications systems for the Smart Grid like being flexible for both current and future Smart Grid equipment , to be based on open standards and designed with interoperability.
Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is a leading solution which fall within these requirements. It is an application -level communication protocol using internet concepts and it leverages much of the functionality provided by an IP network eg. TCP, UDP, QoS, routing

The advantages of the SIP as a application layer protocol for the Smart Grid are as follows :

1. Maturity
    SIP is a mature protocol and has proven to be reliable , secure and scalable.

2.Consistent with current standards
    It consistent with all the current standards and architecture requirements of the
    Smart Grid.

3. Broad device application support
    It can provide the communication semantics to support device to device , device to
    back office , back office to device .

4. Support for Mobile Metering
    Plug in Electric Vechicles (PEV) being a  key element of the Smart Grid and when
    the is charging the PEV away from home would want the cost to be debited to the
    user account and not the home owner. The SIP ‘s location register provides support
     for device and mobility.

5. Flexible Security Design
    SIP supports all modern security mechanism and its flexible security design allows
    it be implemented in a substation as well as data storage for a smart metering

6. Multimedia and advanced communication option
    SIP brings voice , text communication to the Smart Grid.
     As well as mobile telecommunications.

The development and evolution of the Smart Grid require the use of open standards-based technologies. It also require the use of protocols and solutions proven to be functional , scalable , secure and of high performance . The SIP brings all these to the Smart Grid infrastructure .The SIP for Smart Grid provides an opportunity for its deployment. It also allows the Smart Grid to enable a mobile workforce and automate many other businesses.


Thursday, 24 February 2011

Smart Grid

Smart Grid

There are many topics to be covered on the Smart Grid however I would like to focus on the technological aspect (especially Smart Grid and Mobile Networks) but I also realise there is a need to have an overview of everything to do with the Smart Grid.

In the recent years the United States , Europe and other developed nations have all made a vision for the future to have a reliable, secure and affordable utilities system.
All of us want the electric power to be accessible , abundant and affordable especially in this age when we are always using it and increasing dependent on it for our everyday use. In last few 5 years or so the leaders of many developed countries saw the need to modernize their electric delivery system for economic and national
The aging electro-mechanical electric grid which is more than 50 years old cannot keep pace with the new innovations in the digital information and telecommunications network. The occasional power outages and power quality disturbances has cost the economy billions of dollars annually. Therefore there is a need for an electric superhighway to support our information superhighway.

The Smart Grid is defined as an integrated communication and power system infrastructure which allows for robust two - way communications , advanced sensors and distributed computers to improve the efficiency , reliability and safety of power delivery and use.

Most of the technologies available are compatible to work with the Smart Grid infrastructure and billion of dollars or pounds are going to be invested over the next decades for upgrading works on the power grid to ease grid congestion , to harness the new sources of renewable energy , encouraging lower carbon footprint, progress in technology and to better position the network for the next 50 years of operation etc.

Smart Grids enabling technologies :

1. Active distribution of networks, revealing characteristics of today’s transmission grids

2. New network technologies that facilitate increased power transfers and losses reduction (eg. GIL(Gas Insulated Line) , superconductivity , high operating temperatures , FACTS (Flexible AC Transmission System) technologies etc.)

3.Wide deployment of communications to enable grid automation ,on-line services ,demand response and DSM (Demand Side Management).

4. Power electronic technologies for quality of supply
     DC-DC converter used for harvesting photovoltaic energy and the UPS
     (Uninterrupted Power Supply)  are some examples.

5. Stationary energy storage device.
    Stationary energy storage device can substantially enhance the recovery of braking
    energy in DC systems.
The Smart Grid’s objectives is  to develop a shared vision for the future , identify research needs and build support for an increased  research effort on electricity networks, conclusion  and follow up actions on implementation of strategic research agenda and deployment plan.


Thursday, 17 February 2011

Smart Grid and Mobile Network

Smart Grid are usually associated with private operators however with the rise of the mobile broadband and the  on going revolution towards 4G and LTE  (Long Term Evolution) there are many mobile operators like AT&T ,Verizon, Sprint, T- Mobile etc. who want the share of the utilities business that Smart Grid has to offer.

The advantages of the mobile operators are :

     1. Bandwith capacity and they deliver more bandwidth than wireless mesh.

     2. Data needs for Smart Grid is poised to increase rapidly as end users and utilities become increasing
         connected with two-way IP networks , meter reading will be constant and the data being monitored
         will be more complex.

     3. Mobile operators have recognised that Smart Grid services are cheaper to run. The cost of doing
         business is low , no device subsidies are needed to drive demand and even the embedded chips to
         connect meters to the network are cheaper now.

     4. Mobile networks are more than able to meet the needs of the of utilities .
      T- Mobile has partnered with Smart Meter maker Echelon and developed its SIM card for the meters.
       The agreement is that T-Mobile wireless network will connect the Echelon smart meters to the utility
       control centre.
      There is a gradual pattern of mobile operators increasingly being involved with Smart Grid.



Monday, 14 February 2011

Customised Application for Mobile network Enhanced Logic (CAMEL)

CAMEL is not service but  a feature that create services and it provides a mechanism by which services may be implemented within the GSM , GPRS and UTMS networks.

The service provider's network requires the addition of functional entities when CAMEL is introduced  into its network eg. gsmSCF , gsmSRF, gsmSSF and gprsSSF.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Week 1 24/01/2011

1. Lecture on Network Architecture and the Standard Bodies

I found  the GERAN and UTRAN interfaces interesting.

Induction Week 17/01/2011

 Missed the Induction on the MSc in Mobile Telecommunications and listened to the recording the following week.