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Western Power Distribution creating the Blueprint for Grid Modernization with Cisco

July 27, 2014 at 6:04 pm PST

I’ve been to the UK twice this year. The traffic is terrible! Worse than I ever remember! Commentators that’s a good sign -- a sign of economic prosperity. That certainly seems to be the case in the UK. My last European-related blog -- Ferguson Group Ltd keeps an Eye on Operations with Cisco Physical Security -- talked about the Oil industry and how the UK’s fortunes were turned around by the North Sea Oil discovery at about the same time the US astronauts were landing on the moon.

This time it’s the Utility Industry -- electric power to be exact -- that’s causing a stir.

Creating the Telecommunication Blueprint for Grid Modernization, Weston Power Distribution had already chosen Cisco for a Low Carbon Study, building a pilot communications infrastructure to support 11kV grid reinforcement monitoring. The Flexible Approaches to Low Carbon Networks (FALCON) initiative, a government funded study project in the UK has the goal of improving the  industry’s understanding of infrastructure needs in a low carbon future.

U.K. utility regulator Ofgem has estimated that £32 billion of new grid investment will be required within the next 10 years, twice the rate of investment over the previous two decades. Western Power Distribution (WPD) undertook a study to see how the cost of reinforcing its 11kV grid can be reduced based on smarter investment that draws on innovative intervention techniques that can replace or supplement conventional methods.
The UK wants to reduce carbon emissions by 80%, while still handling the peaks and troughs of increasing demand. “Reliable and secure near real-time communications is a key element to the FALCON initiative”, as Andrew Longyear, a Cisco thought leader on the subject commented. “The telecommunications and data management within our project such as FALCON is the SMART in Smart-grid, added Roger Hey, Future Networks Manager, Western Power Distribution.
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The key objectives of the Cisco communications network solution for WPD included:
  • Designing and deploying an IP-based communications infra structure using IEEE 802.16e WiGRID access and backhaul technologies
  • Helping ensure adherence to WPD’s security policy for design and implementation
  • Learning and disseminating all information and findings related to the technologies deployed so far.
  • Creating a blueprint for WPD and for other utilities in the United Kingdom as they test the same intervention techniques

And the intended benefits? Here’s what Sanna Atherton, Innovation and Low-Carbon Networks Engineer, Western Power, said in the video: “The benefits of Project FALCON are to increase the capacity of the network within the Milton Keynes area, and to enable customers to connect to low-carbon technologies”

Watch the video above to see how the initiative is progressing and to hear about the business outcomes achieved and expected. Read the write-up (Western Power Distribution Chooses Cisco for Low Carbon Study) that gives some more background to the project and some technical insight as to how you might benefit from this approach. As always, I’m indebted to the folks in Cisco and the customer for the source material. A big ‘Thank you’!

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