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Engineers push smart grid spec by next year

Posted: 01 Jun 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:smart grid standard? interface? network? powerline?

Engineers target to deliver within a year a broad suite of standards needed to build smart electric grids, reporting stepwise progress at the end of Connectivity Week.

Beyond the standards, the industry needs to create new regulations and business models and show consumers the benefits of a smart grid to make the transition to a digital, networked grid happen, said attendees and presenters at the event. The good news is the standards are underway.

The IEEE P2030 set up in March 2009 has already started to define a laundry list of as many as 70 interface standards to link key components in the smart grid. The group could finish and ratify its framework as early as next March, said Richard DeBlasio, chief engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory who helped kick off the effort.

As many as 130 engineers participated in face-to-face meetings at the Connectivity Week. "We are going to identify all the interfaces an engineer needs, and I am optimistic we will meet our schedule," said DeBlasio.

Meanwhile, the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel established by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) aims to help fill critical gaps in existing standards before June 2011. Leaders of 16 so-called Priority Action Plan (PAP) groups reported on their progress to date, most of them well along in writing requirements statements they will pass to formal standards groups.

The PAP groups span areas including energy storage, electric vehicles, transmission and distribution networks and protocols of all sorts. Several group leaders said it's difficult getting the attention of key experts at a time of intense development work on the grid. Others noted the complexity of the issues could require several cycles of finding and addressing emerging standards gaps.

For example, the Society of Automotive Engineers has already created standards for 220V links between electric vehicles and the grid. But the Nissan Leaf due later this year uses a proprietary interconnect, and fast-charging links using higher voltages are still on the drawing board.

The PAP 10 group working to define data models for customer energy use data broke a logjam this week with a fresh proposal that could put it on track to finish work early next year. However, it's not clear if the PAP 15 group trying to harmonize powerline networking standards for home appliances can overcome the fragmentation of competing approaches.

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