Grid measurement and security solutions escort the smart grid

introduction

As smart grids are increasingly deployed globally, consumers, design engineers, and power companies are discussing how smart grids will transform the entire energy industry. The smart grid allows power companies to access meter data without having to send someone to read the meter on site, saving money. Power companies, power plants and consumers are now actively seeking more environmentally friendly alternative fuels. The new business model uses incentives (such as time-share pricing) to reduce energy consumption during peak periods, thereby encouraging reductions in peak demand. Distributed energy sources, such as electric vehicles and various forms of solar and wind energy, are supporting peak demand through renewable and available resources to the greatest extent. All these technological advancements will also result in a greater amount of data analysis in the smart grid. With a smart grid, power companies have evolved from reading meters once or several times a month to reading 6 to 96 meter readings a day. All data generated by smart meters provides an opportunity to better understand usage patterns, waste, and other factors that power companies have not yet understood.

But in the final analysis, relying solely on smart meters and grid management does not ensure the success of smart grids. To fully exploit this technological advantage, smart grid design must focus on energy measurement and security.

Smart meters and grid management

Energy measurement saves energy

Unfortunately, with the heavy emphasis on the future management of smart grid technology and its communication architecture (for more information, see the attachment below), it is easy to forget that energy metering and security are critical to the success of the system. After all, a network related to power management must not only measure its key commodities, but also protect the valuable infrastructure for transporting commodities. Enter energy metering.

Smart meters use industrial company-level energy measurement functions called "metering" to measure industrial and consumer energy consumption. Including Italy, California, and parts of Scandinavia, these smart meters are already part of a large machine-to-machine power network. But are only power companies keen on energy consumption measurement? of course not. The benefits of extensive energy metering can be extended to a large number of users and providers on the grid.

Take my personal case as an example. The electricity bill in October, November and December last year soared. In late December, my dryer broke. Fortunately, my wife and I were able to buy a new one right away, which is too important in the deep winter season. In hindsight, the dryer was burned due to excessive power consumption, which explains the reason for the higher monthly power consumption and the soaring electricity bill on the electricity bill, which ultimately caused economic losses and repurchased a new dryer.

Energy saving

Energy metering can help solve situations like mine. Energy metering for various applications, such as consumer equipment and industrial motors, has great benefits: reducing power consumption; identifying key assets that require maintenance or even replacement; helping more experienced users or system operators make Smarter decisions about energy consumption and system performance. In the example of my dryer, if the power consumption of the motor can be accurately measured, the power consumption of the equipment can be immediately found to increase. Just like the "engine check" indicator on a car, energy consumption metering records usage patterns, thereby indicating equipment and working conditions before a failure occurs. The usage mode will provide me enough time to repair the dryer or simply buy a new one (buy when discounted!).

In industrial equipment, compared to the potential benefits of accurate energy metering, the energy consumed (the wasted energy in the case of a faulty dryer) is smaller. In the manufacturing industry, motors account for 54% of power consumption1, which is more important for uptime requirements and production goals. For example, assuming that the voltage imbalance of a 100hp motor is 2.5%, it is estimated that the annual power consumption will be $ 4762. In addition, the additional wear of the equipment will cause more maintenance and early replacement costs. You will soon understand the benefits that energy metering in the smart grid brings to industry. Now, further logical reasoning. The increased power and maintenance costs of motors worldwide mean huge opportunities for energy saving and savings.

Once you realize the importance of good management of energy metering, you will seek solutions to achieve it. At this time, smart meters and metering systems become the decisive factors. Maxim Integrated provides multiple energy metering and motor diagnostic solutions for energy condition monitoring. The 78M6610, 78M6613, 78M6631 and MAX78638 provide high-precision, four-quadrant measurement with user firmware. These devices monitor and measure solar panel conversion efficiency and motor operating conditions in industrial applications, and provide valuable measurement data for energy consumption in lighting and computing applications. Finally, compared to the savings in preventing equipment failures and ensuring the normal operation of the system, the investment in energy metering solutions is much smaller.

Power grid security-crucial, but has not received the attention it deserves

The smart grid also requires complete security 24/7. Most users, even industrial and power companies, underestimated the importance of this. Endpoints, such as smart meters, industrial motors, user equipment, and widely distributed automation equipment, consume and control power. At the same time, as smart grid operators make full use of "smart" networks to correct power factor, optimize voltage, accurately locate faults, and reduce maintenance time to ensure uptime, applications for grid-connected devices continue to increase.

Cyber ​​attacks, IP theft, and destruction of productivity-in smart grids and industrial control systems, all these threats are rising. Only complete security measures optimized for the smart grid can prevent these serious threats and ensure maximum uptime, whether it is a simple household laundry dryer or an advanced distributed industrial center. Unfortunately, in many cases, the seriousness of the security risk is not fully realized, and there are only minimum security measures. In a conversation with a power company expert, he told me that "barbed wire, padlocks, and high voltage are the only protective measures in power company substations." Other short-sighted operators believe in the inherent security measures of hardware, but fail to recognize the more serious threats posed by cyber attacks through software.

The most effective security solution can ensure the safety of the entire product life cycle through hardware and software. Since potential security vulnerabilities occur at all stages from equipment purchase to manufacturing, from operation to decommissioning, grid security has a profound impact.

When purchasing products that will work on the smart grid, the buyer must ensure that the channels for purchasing silicon and other key computing devices are reliable. This is essential to avoid counterfeit products. During the manufacturing process, powerful security authentication technology can prevent third parties (such as manufacturing contractors) from stealing keys and then using these keys to steal electricity or infect the power grid with viruses. When used on site, the key is safely stored and the data of the communication channel is encrypted in multiple layers. The secure boot loader prevents viruses and malware from loading into the system. The hardware technology monitors physical security and can respond to tampering events. Devices and sensors that are not under continuous and explicit monitoring need such comprehensive security protection.

Design the most effective safety measures and integrate them into the system or the grid itself. Maxim provides a complete range of security products, such as MAXQ1050, MAX36025, and MAX71637, to meet the security needs of smart grids. These devices integrate basic multi-layer security authentication methods, including split keys, asymmetric encryption, secure bootloader, and various physical tamper protection methods.

to sum up

It sounds old-fashioned, but it is a true fact: Smart grid has the potential to completely change the energy industry. This is both exciting and worthy of our attention. However, when in this management euphoria, it is easy to overlook important issues that are often hidden in grid metering and safety. It is this environment that proves that the design of high-quality meters is the most valuable. If we continue to focus on energy metering and safety, and really use this technology, then we must pay attention to the way smart meters implement smart grids.

Attachment: Comparison of Smart Grid and Telecom

When we talk about smart grids, we often value their huge potential to become self-healing grids that reduce energy consumption and change our energy infrastructure. How is such a revolutionary technology designed and produced? What is its driving force?

A well-structured and mature technology telecommunications infrastructure network is the foundation of today's smart grid. When discussing this topic, we often talk about the Internet and big data, which provide the ability to aggregate and analyze massive amounts of information and use this information to make useful decisions.

Smart Grid

It is true that both the telecommunications network and the smart grid have the same core, high speed, and interoperable communication layer. However, the two have very important and basic differences: the smart grid is truly a machine-to-machine network. Traditional telecom endpoints produce interactions between people and machines, including phones, computers, and now smartphones. The endpoints of a machine-to-machine network consist of sensors, functional machines, or both. These machines are usually not directly controlled by humans, so they cannot effectively express or report the status or health of the network. For example, industrial sensors are often located in inaccessible locations, away from the central system, cannot be upgraded, and are not under manual supervision. Because there is no human interference between the system and the remote equipment, the designer of the smart grid system must deeply consider the detection function and safety of this distributed network.

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