Gigabit Networks for Smart Grids?

web_browserThere is talk about how the National Broadband Network (NBN) in Australia will allow for Smart Grid applications. But you know what? High speed networks are not actually needed to give access to the Smart Grid, at least unless you are providing the servers and services. But since these servers and services are normally kept in data centers, this is not really a deliverable of a high speed network like the NBN, but the communications infrastructure of the Internet.

Chattanooga, in the USA has implemented a gigabit network in their distribution network. But to be honest, much of this could be done with much lower speed technologies. The power system at the most basic level works (or can work) with relatively low speed links. Over the years, more telemetry has gone in to monitor equipment, but much of this is still monitoring a limited number of analog and digital values.

I was recently doing some work installing private ADS connections into some local sewer and water plants. It was interesting to see how these operated. The telemetry went from the plants to the head office via low speed radio links. Operators at these often unmanned sites could then log into a computer whilst on site to examine this telemetry. That is, the ADSL links was so that they could operate on the corporate network and download from data there, not for the upload of information which was done via radio.

Another example if the Air Conditioning control from Redshift Wireless. To be honest, we have not tried to reduce the bandwidth of the application, but the hardware interface requires something like a megabyte a day to manage the energy consumption of a device that consumes many kW of electrical load. Most of the bandwidth goes to the GUI side, and we are working to reduce that. But from the control side, this translates in rough numbers to a Gigabyte per Megawatt of controlled load per day.