Solutions to the Computer Networking Challenges of the Distribution Smart Grid

Selga, J.M., Navarro, J and Zaballos, A.
IEEE Communication Letters
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Communication networks play a crucial role in the context of Smart Grids since they enable a broad set of appealing facilities, from both producers and consumers side, to be effectively delivered. So far, several standards (e.g., IEC 61850-5) have been presented aiming to detail the specific requirements for such networks on the Smart Grid domain. However, the definitions proposed by these standards are confined to a reduced part of the grid: the primary substation. This situation prevents electrical distribution networks from fully exploiting the Smart Grid concept as a whole (i.e., provide truly distributed energy resources). The purpose of this paper is to (1) provide a further insight qualitative analysis of the yet-unexplored communication requirements raised by the electrical distribution Smart Grid, and (2) propose novel solutions targeted at creating link layer networks spanning a given electrical distribution area to allow faster and more reliable communication. Specifically, these so-lutions are devoted to extend all standards and communication mechanisms already defined for primary substations, to the whole grid by considering the electrical distribution grid as a collec-tion of virtual substations. Furthermore, collected experiences throughout the implementation of this proposal envisage some alternatives to boost the performance of this protocol in terms of reliability and latency.