Bringing Cloud to Smart Grid

Most industry reports consistently estimate India as among the top 3 markets for smart grid worldwide, next only to China and the US. All the major players of the smart grid market are active in India and beefing up their plans and investments.

Cloud computing is another hot technology which has transformed the landscape and is one of the top priorities of most CTOs/CIOs across the world. In India too, its adoption and deployment has been rapid and significant.

How Cloud Compliments Smart Grid

Till recently there was not much focus on how a revolutionary technology like cloud can transform or impact another revolutionary concept like smart grid that is transforming the face of the power industry. However that is changing as both the government and the industry realize the synergy between these two concepts and there is increasing interest in exploring and understanding how cloud could be the next frontier that could take smart grid to newer heights.

The reasons though are not hard to find. The exponential growth of the power industry in India is high and requires increasingly large and real-time computing and stimulation capacity. With smart grid kind of concepts, the power industry is only bound to increase further and the need for computing and storage resources will rise at all levels of the grid in a dispersed manner. This is where cloud comes into play and becomes highly relevant.

Cloud in smart grid, based on the application model of computing, will integrate all available resources, make them work together and provide a wide range of services across all levels of respective grids.

The 4 layers of this application model are:

  • Shared Resources
  • Intermediate Management
  • Services Convergence
  • Application Access

Controlling Security Risks

Security has been always talked about when it comes to cloud deployment and becomes even more sensitive in areas like power grid. Here, the concept of main cloud and sub cloud comes in handy as it limits the authority and resource allocation and makes privilege and resource control more feasible. Also, cloud node of a certain level can get resources from local nodes and its sibling nodes can only get resources from its father node under special conditions. Data security is thus realized through the corresponding encryption, authentication, and disaster tolerance techniques.

India is well placed to look at this cutting-edge concept as it can skip generational evolution of technologies, like it did in telecom to move to the new technology and practices. Also, global standards setting bodies like IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) are rising up to the requirement, filling the much-needed gap with cloud computing standards – IEEE P2301 and IEEE P2302.

To summarize, bringing cloud to smart grid will result in current existing computing and storage capabilities being taken optimal leverage of and significant improvements in the performance of the whole grid.

The author is chair, IEEE SIG, IEEE
Standards Association (IEEE-SA)

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