Since the discovery of electricity, the electrical power grid has been a critical aspect of people’s lives. As the world ventures into the future, electrical power grids are more critical than ever for any infrastructure. It plays a vital role in the functioning of modern societies.

However, a question arises: how can people future-proof the existing electrical power grids?

The simple answer is implementing 5G technology into electrical power grids and transforming them into a smart grid infrastructure.

Smart Grid

The term smart grid comes from the modernization of the electrical power grid, which can impact the entirety of the whole value chain from generation to transmission and distribution, including civilian homes. This is made possible with increased communication and intelligence capabilities, such as sensors, to name an example. This transformation can become a reality due to the prowess of the 5G networks, as it allows the increased usage of renewable energy sources, sustainability, low-cost prices, security of supply, and the infrastructure and its workforce.

The integration process will open the possibility for greater observability and use of resources in an optimally coordinated way. Cyber-physical systems will no longer be a pipe dream and allow smart grids to operate efficiently. These systems can improve the intelligence level of a smart grid, by interacting between physical facilities and the cyber world and controlling the physical process with the help of processed data and information. Cyber-physical systems (CPS) can also perform data mining and information retrieval to create an effective, reliable, accurate, and real-time control of the physical process in the smart grid. All of this will result in a smart electrical grid ready to provide electricity to the whole world. 

Power of the Internet of Things

In addition to building a sound power physical infrastructure, it is also necessary to realize the digitalization, informatization, automation, and interaction of a power grid.

Typically, smart grids offer bi-directional information flow among several systems service providers such as power generation, transmission, distribution, and utilization. For enabling such bi-directional information flow, smart grids need to use various IoT devices for the operating, monitoring, data collection, analysis, safety management, and control of the grid operations. Furthermore, these IoT devices are usually deployed at power plants, distribution centers, microgrids, and end-user premises. The IoT devices enable connectivity and provide a mechanism for bi-directional information flow to the smart grid control center. For reliable connectivity, IoT devices employ various communication technologies of both the short-range type such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Ultra-Wideband, and long-range type like the cellular networks.

IoT comprises the perception layer, network layer, platform layer, and application layer. Those layers focus on data collection, transmission, management, and value creation. The perception layer makes sure that all things are interconnected, and the state of a power grid is fully visualized. The network layer, which entails the backbone network, distribution network, and terminal access network, ensures the ubiquitous and all-time communication ability. The platform layer is responsible for digital management that makes the power grid controllable. The final one is the application layer, in which the power grid provides all kinds of services to create greater opportunities for all walks of life.

All of these layers require high-end cyber security and privacy in data-based IoT. For reaching IoT’s full potential in the smart grids, the characteristics of the layers should be considered and select appropriate facilities, devices, and communication technologies for various applications.

Security Requirements

Cyber security is heavily required to make the smart grid and its infrastructure viable, and there are a few wireless communication-related security requirements need to be checked. Those requirements are the IoT devices’ authentication, privacy, availability, confidentiality, and integrity. Even if there is only one missing requirement, the whole smart grid infrastructure could fail.

 

Additionally, these requirements are needed in order to be able to secure the main information assets related to the smart grid. These assets include readings of voltage, current, temperature, and so forth that are collected by IoT devices or sensors and transmitted to the control center. It also provides control signals towards IoT devices. This means that the superior combination of the 5G networks and electrical power grid can all be for naught if the security is not up to par.

In Conclusion

Implementing 5G networks and technology into the existing electrical power grid would pave the way for smart cities to be built all over the world, on the foundation of the creation of smart grids.

In pursuit of more reliable networking, VIAVI Solutions has the confidence to implement new fiber networks and execute quality assurance on existing networks and assist you with 5G validation, 5G testing, and 5G visibility

VIAVI has developed software-based NB-IoT testing—the first of its kind in the industry—available as a license on CellAdvisor handheld instruments. This further enhances CellAdvisor as a comprehensive RF test solution, offering RF over CPRI and BBU emulation in addition to LTE testing and automated interference hunting to help maximize the efficiency of technicians while visiting cell sites.

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Channel Marketing Manager - APAC

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