Smart Grid Projects Pick Up Speed

Initiative launched to develop standards, guidelines for operations, and a new journal too

6 August 2009

Making the electricity grid “smart” has become a priority in many countries, but a lack of standards will make this a difficult goal to achieve. That’s why IEEE recently launched an initiative to develop smart grid standards and write guidelines for the power engineering, communications, and information technology areas on how such grids should operate. In addition, IEEE will roll out a new journal in 2010 that will be devoted to the smart grid.

When completed, IEEE P2030 Guide for Smart Grid Interoperability of Energy Technology and Information Technology Operation with the Electric Power System and End-Use Applications and Loads will define key elements of the modernized grid and tap into IEEE’s existing grid standards. IEEE Standards Coordinating Committee 21 (SCC21) is sponsoring the standard.

Bringing the world’s aging electric grids into the 21st century requires overlaying them with a digital communications system that includes sensors, controls, and wireless devices. On the end user’s site, devices such as smart meters will be needed that can communicate back and forth with the central power station.

The benefits of a smart grid will be many. For example, the electric utilities themselves could turn off loads remotely at times of peak demand. They could also better manage the integration into their distribution systems of new modes of power generation such as solar and wind. And consumers, informed of how much power they’re using, would be able to control their consumption.

Utilities around the world are already running a number of smart-grid trial programs, but for the technologies to be adopted rapidly, interoperable products must be developed. And although several standards for different elements of the grid already exist, many need to be updated.

The IEEE P2030 standard will focus on integrating energy technology with information and communications technologies to achieve seamless operation for electricity generation and delivery. In accomplishing this, knowledge of grid architecture will be expanded to promote electric power systems that are more reliable and flexible. The IEEE Standards Association, along with other groups, is collaborating with the National Institute for Standards and Technology to create a document called Smart Grid Interoperability Standards Roadmap. The document will identify the short- and long-term plans for architecture development and associated standards and infrastructure development for the smart grid.

P2030 efforts will also aim at helping the power system work with end-user applications and devices such as smart meters. Other efforts include developing strategies for grid design and operation and creating definitions that address interconnection and intrafacing frameworks, which are networks within each individual substation of the grid such as generation, transmission, and distribution.

“For the smart grid to be successful, a set of standards needs to be in place, which all involved can apply,” says Senior Member W. Charlton (Chuck) Adams Jr., president of the IEEE Standards Association. “IEEE is in a unique position to bring everyone together to collaborate on creating this standards foundation.”

IEEE’s proposed efforts for P2030 are modeled after the development of the IEEE 1547 body of standards for distributed energy resources interconnection and interoperation with the grid. These include standards 1547.1 through 1547.7. IEEE 1547 has been adopted and implemented in 37 U.S. states.

“My hope is that the process used for IEEE 1547 will provide IEEE with a road map for addressing all smart-grid and interoperability standards that it needs to develop and implement,” says IEEE Senior Member Dick DeBlasio, chair of IEEE SCC21 and the P2030 working group. He initiated work on the suite of standards in 1999.

GETTING STARTED To launch the project, the P2030 working group held a meeting in June at Intel’s headquarters in Santa Clara, Calif. More than 150 representatives from the information technology, communications, and power industries attended. Three task forces were formed to tackle distribution systems, including the integration of different energy sources, transmission and transmission substations, load-side requirements, and cybersecurity.

Broadly speaking, the task forces will focus on power engineering technology, information technology, and communications technology. The power engineering technology group will work on the functional requirements of interoperability, drawing on various existing and ongoing efforts by groups such as the International Society of Automation and the International Electrotechnical Commission.

The information technology team will look at issues of privacy and security, data integrity, interfaces, and device interoperability. The communications technology task force will define communications requirements between devices on the smart grid and establish boundaries for generation, transmission, and distribution with the customer. The task force groups will engage participants from other key IEEE societies including the Computer, Communications, Industry Applications, and Power & Energy societies. The next P2030 working group meeting will take place in October.

GRID SAVVY IEEE’s focus on smart grids won’t be limited to standards. The quarterly IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid, coming in 2010, will be a cross-disciplinary journal sponsored by the Power & Energy Society (PES). It will publish articles on just about all facets of the smart grid. This includes topics such as cyber- and physical security, distributed energy, intelligent monitoring and outage management, plug-in vehicles used as power sources, and low-carbon transportation alternatives.

IEEE’s involvement in the smart grid is nothing new. Through the years, IEEE has published nearly 2500 papers on the topic in more than 40 journals. PES sponsors an Intelligent Grid Coordinating Committee to address smart-grid technologies, identify opportunities for their future application, and provide a forum for exchanging information. Over the last four years, more than 100 smart-grid technical sessions have been held at various IEEE meetings.

There’s also an 8-minute video, A Smart Grid for Intelligent Energy Use, available on IEEE.tv and YouTube.

“IEEE is leveraging its strong foundation and collaborating [with others] to evolve standards, share best practices, publish developments, and provide related educational offerings to advance [smart-grid] technology and facilitate successful deployments throughout the world,” says Wanda Reder, president of PES.

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