Smart grids – transforming local networks
In Great Britain, the rollout of smart meters provides us with a golden opportunity to speed up the development of local smart grids. But this needs a rapid, resilient communications service, to enable real time monitoring and control of smart meters and other grid devices.
The consumption of electricity varies considerably from hour to hour, with peaks at certain times of day. Network capacity needs to be available to accommodate energy flows at these peak times. A projected growth in renewable energy penetration, combined with the anticipated rapid rise in the use of electric vehicles, is set to make energy flows even more variable and so increase the scale of the challenge.
In the long-term, the development of smart grids, where energy consuming and producing devices can be monitored and controlled in real-time, will help utilities to even out the flow of energy and reduce the peaks. Distribution Automation can also be added at substation level, to make the grid more effective and dynamic. These, when combined, should lessen the need to invest in energy network reinforcement. Great Britain could save £billions as a result.
The GB-wide smart metering rollout, which will require communications with every meter, will provide a much clearer view of network status down to household level. As such, it will be an important stepping stone towards smart grids. Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) will be able to diagnose and fix outages more rapidly and precisely and provide improved service to customers. By despatching repair crews only when and where they are needed DNOs can also save operational costs.
However, to achieve deeper energy and capex savings, it is important that smart metering communications are rapid, always available and flexible enough to economically cover other grid devices. For example, real-time communications could be used to remotely set millions of big energy consuming devices, such as washing machines and electric vehicles, to use energy at times when there is available network and generation capacity.
The SmartReach solution is the dedicated, secure, resilient and proven long-range radio (LRR) communications solution for smart metering and associated grids requirements for all of Great Britain.
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