Based on its recent analysis of the smart grid market, Frost & Sullivan (News - Alert) has recognized Silicon Valley-based Cisco Systems with its 2012 Global Award for Enabling Technology. The award was based on Cisco’s modular, phased smart grid network implementation; interoperability; security; and adaptability.
The research firm, with headquarters in Mountain View, California, notes that the modern smart grid not only has made strides toward high efficiencies, low downtime, and reduced operational expenditures, but also enables utilities to realize reductions in peak power consumption and related capital expenditures. However, the scale and complexity in building and designing such a system throws up various technical, financial, and feasibility challenges. A tried-and-tested networking solution is crucial to handle the vast hardware elements, supporting channels, and different topologies that come together in a smart grid.
“Cisco (News - Alert) addresses these issues by properly utilizing standards-based solutions built on IP [Internet protocol], which is still one of the most robust and standardized communications technologies,” stated Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Shahul Nath, adding, "Because IP has been used widely in various environments, it allows utilities and grid managers to deploy a single common platform for all required needs along every domain. This reduces relevant issues, such as designing and building closed networks for every domain, and helps to address interoperability and security issues."
Cisco's implementation of the smart grid network is based on the GridBlocks architecture, which enables it to undertake a modular, phased implementation of the various grid-networking solutions and build upon existing infrastructure. This allows utilities to plan their investments and deploy in a flexible way. The aim of the GridBlocks architecture is to ensure that there is a common platform for the entire grid system, which can address the future needs and requirements of the electric grid system.
Cisco's Connected Grid solutions enable grid systems to communicate with each other based on real-time information. This allows utilities to enhance transmission and distribution system automation, asset management, and grid systems monitoring. It also permits the grid managers to identify bottlenecks and further optimize the grid.
"Using open, standard-based solutions also enables end-point hardware to easily integrate into the grid," added Nath. "This is quite important as society moves into the era of home automation and electric vehicles, which will communicate with the grid systems to help reduce and control peak power requirements."
However, Frost & Sullivan believes that the most attractive capability Cisco offers relates to security. Having designed and delivered solutions for governments and militaries, Cisco's ability to deliver and secure solutions is important, especially in an age where cyber threats aim to target critical infrastructure, such as power grids.
"Equally important is the fact that Cisco exhibits the capacity to adapt to the future needs of utilities," noted Nath. "The company has the greatest ability to integrate distributed and renewable power such as solar and wind power, meet the growing need from electric vehicles, and leverage upcoming technological developments in communication and semiconductors."
Overall, Cisco's offering will enable utilities and grid operators to be better prepared to face the challenges of the coming years. In recognition, Frost & Sullivan is pleased to present Cisco with the 2012 Global Enabling Technology Award in the smart grids market.
Each year, Frost & Sullivan presents this award to a company that has developed a pioneering technology that not only enhances current products, but also enables the development of newer products and applications. The award recognizes the high market acceptance potential of the recipient's technology.
Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli