3 new reports you shouldn't miss (grid policy, transformer technologies and security)

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By: SGN Staff

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By Doug Peeples

SGN News Editor

 

Keeping up with what's going on in the energy and smart grid sectors can be a chore. We've picked three reports to help bring you up to speed on electric grid policy development, stabilizing an aging grid with smart grid transformer technologies, and what industry and academia are doing to protect advanced metering infrastructure from attacks.

 

First up, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) has issued a new report developed under its Electric Grid Initiative that outlines its policy recommendations for improved grid reliability and cleaner energy generation. Just for background: the nonprofit BPC is co-chaired by former Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA), former FERC Chairman Curt Hébert Allison Clements who is director of the Sustainable FERC Project for the National Resources Defense Council.

 

The report defines two trends that are pushing policy makers toward reevaluating how to strengthen and modernize the electric grid: public interest in grid reliability and resilience in the wake of blackouts and weather-related outages in many parts of the country, and the changing mix of energy resources and the changes it is bringing to the energy market and state and federal energy or environmental policies.

EPRI's Cyber Security team has released a new report, Intrusion Detection System for Advanced Metering Infrastructure, that details initiatives from industry and academia to address detecting security events in the broad range of AMI networks and equipment. EPRI's intent with the report is to offer AMI vendors a clear awareness of AMI's specific monitoring requirements and to define critical research challenges in intrusion detection technology and large-scale deployment.

 

The report covers monitoring requirements for AMI core components such as the collection engine, meter data management system, data collection unit and the meters. Here are three highlights from the EPRI report:

Intrusion detection systems (IDS) for AMI are still in the early development phase

Those IDS AMI solutions need to be scalable and adaptable in terms of resource constraints

Different types of IDS sensors are recommended for the meter, field area network and AMI headend system.

 

As EPRI says, effective design and deployment of IDS solutions in a utility's AMI system have many differences from design and deployment in more traditional information technology environments. An example: deploying a perimeter IDS may not adequately cover an AMI system.

 

And speaking of monitoring, GTM Research released its latest smart grid market report on transformer monitoring. The smart grid transformer includes many parts: monitors, sensors, software, diagnostics and analytics  designed to avoid outages and to protect utility electric grid assets. The market analysis firm anticipates hefty growth in the transformer monitoring hardware market, from its current level of $112 annually to $755 million by 2020.

 

GTM Research says the report is the first of its kind to examine both the technology and competitive arena of U.S. transformer markets. It includes specific analysis by technology to 2020, including

Transformer monitors and sensors

·         Dissolved gas analysis monitors

·         Bushing and partial discharge systems

·         Power and distribution transformer software

·         Secondary transformer software solutions

·         Geospatial analytics software solutions

 

Ben Kellison, report author and a GTM Research smart grid analyst, explained "Utilities must invest in monitors, sensors and software for their new and aging transformers. They are the backbone of the U.S. alternating current grid, and they range from one of the most expensive utility assets to low-cost street corner devices manipulating power to ensure out toasters work properly."

 

A variety of elements is building the need to invest in intelligent transformers and software in the U.S.: an aging workforce and assets as well as the growing amount of data from smarter devices on the grid like smart meters and distribution automation hardware.

 

Overall, Kellison said, transformer monitoring and software markets are "high-growth areas driven by the strength of the secondary transformer market. Grid giants like ABB, Alstom, GE, Schneider and S & C Electric have already caught on to the opportunity that transformer technology offers and are well-positioned to lead the market."