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Computing Technologies for the Smart Grid: Solution Brief

Computing Technologies for the Smart Grid
Advanced Intel® product technologies boost availability, reliability, and security

Disruptive business changes and forces are driving the massive upgrade of 20th century power grids to “smart grids.” Every part of the grid is open for redesign, leading equipment manufacturers to develop new platforms, merge and enhance functionality, and eliminate some legacy products. The equipment design focus has transitioned from generating new energy capacity to emphasizing availability, predictability, and efficiencies, which requires more intelligent equipment, like soft PLCs and relay controllers.

Utility operators can ill-afford to build new power plants every time peak load jumps, not to mention that many governments are reluctant to grant new building licenses due to environmental concerns. Yet, demand continues to grow at a historic rate of 2.4 percent per year, which is forcing utility operators to find ways to do more with their existing energy capacity, consider renewable energy sources, and implement demand-side management.

These regulatory and market realities are requiring a new way of thinking for utilities. There’s a greater emphasis on preventing service outages and continuing on the path of reducing “customer minutes lost,” a standard measure of supply reliability. Such measures are needed to increase customer satisfaction and can be realized by deploying equipment with higher levels of availability, reliability, and security.

The equipment supporting electrical grids is truly diverse, including some that was engineered, built, and deployed back in the 1950s. The global need for CO2 reductions is a major driver for updating and retrofitting the existing electrical network, enhancements that will be partially funded by government programs. The equipment within the electrical system spans huge turbines that generate energy, control systems that distribute power, and smart meters that monitor home consumption.

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