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Connecting The Dots on SmartGrid

The Smart Grid is a revolutionary, multi-disciplinary and complicated engineering challenge that today feels a lot like a connect-the-dots puzzle.


Most of the technologies that will deliver the Smart Grid’s historic envisioned benefits already exist today. The challenge is seamlessly linking the systems in a reliable, safe, robust and flexible facility of two-way power flow, communications and control.


This is the challenge that the IEEE P2030 Working Group foresaw in bringing together power, information technology and communications engineers in March 2009. Two years later, IEEE P2030 is building what figures to be the world’s first foundational, cross-discipline, system-of-systems guide for Smart Grid interoperability. The “Draft Guide for Smart Grid Interoperability of Energy Technology and Information Technology Operation With the Electric Power System (EPS), and End-Use Applications and Loads” has entered IEEE sponsor balloting and remains on schedule for ratification as a standard in 2011.


In inviting review and comment from a broader spectrum of IEEE members and non-member expertise, the IEEE P2030 working group seeks to strengthen consensus on guidelines that are intended to help utilities, manufacturers and governments unify around common interconnection and interoperability standards. By identifying the standard interfaces on which the Smart Grid can rely, the IEEE P2030 guide stands to accelerate adoption of large- and small-scale renewables and distributed-generation energy sources and empower power end users with more control over their engagement with the grid and their power costs.


IEEE P2030 has been an undertaking of unprecedented cross-discipline collaboration. In broad strokes, a task force of power engineers has worked to determine what devices will be networked and what information will be traded among them in the Smart Grid, while communications and IT task forces have worked to identify how that secure, dependable data exchange can take place.


The IEEE P2030 guide, furthermore, will illuminate where needed Smart Grid interoperability and interconnection standards do not yet exist. Some gaps have already been targeted. Interoperability of electric vehicles with the grid is the planned focus of the IEEE P2030.1 guide, for example. IEEE P2030.2 will address integration of discrete and hybrid storage systems with the Smart Grid, and IEEE P2030.3 is tackling test procedures for conformance of storage equipment to interconnection standards.


Ultimately, the IEEE P2030 guide and its emerging extensions will comprise to serve as the Smart Grid’s Rosetta stone. Utility engineers will be able to use the guidelines to decipher how to intelligently connect the next-generation, interstate power grid’s dots and ensure that energy is transmitted, distributed and managed efficiently and securely. For manufacturers, the IEEE knowledge base will serve as a wide-ranging, architecture-level design tool for surmising how and where to develop products and applications. And for governments and their constituents, IEEE P2030 means the quicker realization of the Smart Grid’s historical benefits.


Photo by clix.

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