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Smart Grids – transforming local networks
What is a Smart Grid
A smart grid is the future of running energy networks, targeting many of the challenges we face in the UK energy industry today and providing a greener solution to meet gas and electricity demands.
How do smart grid networks work?
Today, we are using more energy than ever before and we have to find new, sustainable ways to reduce our carbon footprint. Our current energy networks will eventually be unable to meet our growing energy demands, meaning that we need to reform and integrate new technologies such as electric cars and solar and wind energy for a greener future.
By linking hardware, communications and other technologies, smart grids can provide network operators and utilities an accurate view of their local gas and electricity networks by monitoring supply to individual households, enabling them to identify and resolve any power outages much more quickly and efficiently, improving customer service and expectations.
Arqiva Smart Grid Network Solutions
Our proven solution for smart metering communications is ideally suited to meet the challenging requirements of smart energy grids. Using the same technology solution to meet both metering and the monitoring and control of energy grids would increase the long-term value of investments in this communications solution. Improved monitoring and control would enable energy network operators to extend the life of their assets, avoid network reinforcement costs, achieve operational efficiencies and maintain quality of supply.
Smart meters can provide network operators with greater visibility of the individual households that are connected to their networks with a much clearer, real-time view of energy flows and network status. Arqiva already provides “last gasp” power outage alerts as part of its communication service provider contract with the Data and Communications Company (DCC)This will help network operators to reduce operating costs and deliver better service to the customers connected to their networks. For these benefits to be realised, it very much depends on a communications network that is highly secure, reliable and resilient.
Arqiva’s solution has proven to meet these demanding requirements. It is designed to be always available and to prioritise time-critical communications. The “last gasp” service is an example of how our solution can prioritise messages to ensure they are delivered quickly so that the network operator can direct and prioritise repair teams to restore supplies as quickly and efficiently as possible. This functionality has already been successfully implemented at scale in the US by our partner Sensus.
Dedicated Smart Grid Networks
Our solution is bespoke, built to specific customer requirements and service levels and uses a dedicated network that isn’t shared with other users or the internet, so it is inherently more secure and resilient than other competing technologies. This is critically important as the smart grid evolves and as the level of controls for connected consuming and producing devices increases over time. With more and more devices connecting to the grid, the flow of electricity will need to become a lot more flexible. This can be achieved through distribution automation – the remote monitoring and control of equipment that regulates the flow and quality of electricity supply through the network to the customers connected to it.
The data that smart metering can provide will become a real asset for users of the smart grid, meaning that we can plan ahead to meet growing consumption demands. Real-time control of producing, consuming and regulating devices will need to combine to increase the efficiency and effective capacity of grids. In turn, this will help utilities to delay or avoid investments in network capacity, which could save billions of pounds.