News Release

Cisco Builds Upon Smart Grid Portfolio to Help Modernize the Electric Grid

Delivers Utility Industry's First Multiservice Communications Platform with New Field Area Network Solution, Professional Services, Enhanced Substation Offerings, and Architecture
Jan 17, 2012

SAN JOSE, Calif. – January 17, 2012 – Cisco today announced additional solutions and services to its Connected Grid portfolio that will help utilities modernize the electric grid with built-in flexibility, security and interoperability enabled by the power of the network.  Cisco's new technology architecture, solutions and related services address key utility concerns around cost, reliability and scalability in their communications infrastructures.

As the electric grid becomes more intelligent and complex, utilities around the world want technology that can grow to address multiple operational needs over time, supports their unique market and organizational structures, and is designed so that different vendor systems can work together.  They also need solutions that provide a high degree of security and allow them to utilize their existing installed base of technology as they modernize their electric grids.  

Given these requirements, Cisco offers utilities and partners a comprehensive blueprint for smart grid deployments known as theCisco GridBlocksTM Architecture.  This provides a forward-looking view of integrating digital communications and the electrical grid, as well as specific deployment guidance for the various grid communications networks that exist today.  It also provides a framework for utilities to design and deploy comprehensive management and security solutions across the entire grid.

The new Cisco offerings – which include a field area network (FAN) solution, as well as expanded transmission and substation products – are based on this architectural model and are designed to address key utility concerns around cost, reliability and scalability in their communications infrastructures.  By delivering multiple applications over a single, intelligent and highly secure platform, electric utilities will benefit from lower total cost of ownership as well as derive value from new services and functional integration of networks.

The new Cisco Connected Grid services and integrated solutions help electric utilities in the planning, design and optimization phases of their grid modernization initiatives.

Key Highlights

Cisco GridBlocks Architecture

  • Cisco's GridBlocks Architecture provides utility operators with a communications view of the entire power delivery chain with security woven throughout the design.
  • The modular approach allows utilities to focus on particular elements of their network at any given time and is adaptable to differing market structures and regions.
  • The Cisco GridBlocks Architecture provides a framework in which communications requirements can be specified at each level.
  • It allows customers to take a holistic view of how to evolve their electric grid and design phases of technology implementation.

Field Area Network Solution

  • Cisco's Connected Grid FAN solution simplifies utility operations by enablingapplications such as advanced meter infrastructure, distribution automation, and protection and control to be delivered over a common network platform.  The solution has a layered architecture that supports both wired and wireless communications.
  • Cisco and Itron deliver on their strategic alliance announced in 2010 by providing a complete FAN solution that integrates Itron's smart grid solution onto the Cisco IPv6-based network.  This provides a validated, interoperable solution for utilities that allows affordable and accessible upgrades as time goes by.
  • As part of the new FAN solution, Cisco is introducing the 1000 series Connected Grid Router. The router comes in  models for outdoor pole-top mount (CGR 1240) and indoor din-rail mount (CGR 1120).  Each supports 2G/3G, WiMax and RF mesh connectivity.
  • These ruggedized routers are specifically built to comply with electrical substation standards and designed for outdoor environments.  The router has no moving parts (e.g., fans) and is built with industrial-grade components to support an extended temperature range.
  • The FAN solution also includes new endpoints, device management and network management systems that are open and flexible across diverse energy markets, providing a modular solution that can be reassembled as market structures change.
  • The Cisco Connected Grid Network Management System (NMS) provides network operators with end-to-end monitoring and control of the network communications, delivering enterprise-class visibility that can currently scale to manage up to 10 million endpoints.

Transmission and Substation Solutions

  • Cisco is expanding its transmission and substation solution to help utilities extend the useful life of their installed base of technology as part of a phased migration to standards-based networks.  With this launch, Cisco offers a full set of communication modules for its 2000 Series Connected Grid Routers.  These include the smart grid industry's first wireless 4G/LTE module, WAN modules to support ISDN, and DSL networks. 
  • Cisco has also enhanced security capabilities on the 2000 Series Connected Grid Routers and Switches.  This includes the most advanced portfolio of VPN, encryption, access control, and threat detection in the industry.  Features include intrusion prevention system (IPS) / intrusion detection system (IDS) and support for SCADA signatures.In addition, the Cisco 2000 Series Connected Grid Routers support synchrophasor deployments with source-specific multicast for efficient transfer and sharing of phasor management unit data across utility boundaries.  

Connected Grid Services

  • Cisco has developed a set of tools and professional services to help utilities prioritize their communication investments by performing portfolio-level analysis of solutions on a shared multilayer infrastructure.  This helps deliver an optimal design for technology deployment based on proven use cases and business requirements.
  • Cisco has developed the Connected Grid Visualization and Design tool to address the complexity of automating substation communications.  The tool allows engineers to visualize in a single interface the energy delivery network CIM diagrams, IEC 61850 protection schema for intelligent electronic devices (IEDs), and the communications network.  This helps enable engineers to design, model, and simulate all three networks dynamically, reducing design and deployment time and enabling engineers to standardize designs across hundreds or thousands of substations.

Supporting Quotes:

Laura Ipsen, senior vice president of Connected Energy Networks, Cisco: "The expansion of Cisco's smart grid offerings will enable utility customers to more effectively and efficiently transition to a highly intelligent energy infrastructure for the 21st century.  Cisco has developed solutions that will help utilities save costs and derive more value out of their existing technology networks as they transition to more robust and scalable standards-based networks.  This architectural approach to smart grid, enabled by industry alliances like the one between Cisco and Itron, can help utilities achieve long-term, strategic objectives while reducing operational expenses." 

Philip Mezey, president & chief operating officer of Energy, Itron: "Together, Itron and Cisco are setting the stage for grid modernization.  We have delivered on our joint vision to create a truly open, interoperable communications architecture to drive Smart Grid success for our utility customers and consumers.  Through our extensive collaboration, we are helping utilities accelerate adoption and simplify deployment of smart grid solutions, reduce the total cost of ownership of these systems, and unleash innovation for smart grid applications and technologies in the marketplace."

Customer Quotes:

Adrian Clark, chief technology officer, Ausgrid: "Cisco Services has recently worked with Ausgrid to understand the requirements for electricity substations today and as we move towards a more complex and integrated future environment. Their work is assisting us to transform the electricity network into a smarter grid.  We highly value their ongoing partnership and commitment to our company and the industry."

Gary Murphy, chief project officer, Smart Metering Program, BC Hydro: "The Smart Metering Program will help keep rates in British Columbia low by delivering $1.6 billion in savings to our customers over the 20 years. The Cisco-Itron alliance was a game changer for the industry.  The ability to leverage our infrastructure with Itron's smart grid solutionand Cisco's Connected Grid networking and security capabilities is a great stepping stone intosmart grid.  We will be able to leverage it for years to come."

Miss Lu Hong, director of automation department, State Grid Corporation of China:  "State Grid Corporation of China is leading the world by deploying full IEC 61850 Digital Substation architectures. For such large scale implementation the management of IED configuration and its communication network is very complex and time consuming.  Cisco's Visualization and Design tool enables our engineers to streamline substation network discovery, design, modeling and testing processes.  It also helps validate and keep track of configuration changes, which meet our operational needs very well."

Supporting Resources:

Tags / Keywords:

Cisco, Smart Grid, Sustainability, Environment, Connected Grid, Substation Automation, Utilities

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