US smart grid to generate 1000 petabytes of data a year


Australia’s real-time systems will require NBN solution.

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Data transmission and storage for a fully-deployed smart grid in the US will swell to consume the equivalent of more than 400 US Libraries of Congress in data a year once it becomes a real-time system, a visting power company executive said today.

Speaking at the IQPC Smart Grids Forum in Sydney, the architect of the first US smart grid in the Texas city of Austin Andres Carvallo said that current data networks were not up to the task demanded by tomorrow's smart utilities grids.

He said that a fully amped-up US smart grid would generate 1000 petabytes of data a year. By comparison, Carvallo said the US Library of Congress generated 200 terabytes of data a month, Google trafficked a petabyte a month and AT&T's network consumed 200 petabytes a year.

Carvallo said that demand from regulators and consumers for real-time updates from smart meters would stress to breaking point those networks that rely on narrow-band networks.

In the high-tech centre of Austin, home to semiconductor fabrication plants and aerospace industries, 500,000 end points or meters reporting their status every 15 minutes generated 100 terabytes of data a month. This would rise to 400 terabytes with more frequent reporting intervals.

A network of meters reporting their use every minute generated 1.2 petabytes of data a month but a real-time network this size created 40 petabytes of data a month.

"We need to shift to the next generation technology, which is broadband," Carvallo told an audience of energy and telecommunications company executives.

"We need to upgrade the backbone to monitor all deployments in real-time and manage solar panels and everything in between."

But Carvallo said one of the biggest costs to upgrade Australia's ageing power networks, that need to be superannuated in the next few years, was not technical.

He said blowback from customers stung by unexpected tariffs hikes was the "wild card". California's power companies' smart grid projects were nearly derailed by activist consumers angered by the utilities' poor PR.

"Don't underestimate the amount of money and staff you need [to spend] on customer relations, marketing, PR and customer information," he said.

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