IEEE Wireless Communications - April 2017 - page 52

IEEE Wireless Communications • April 2017
50
1536-1284/17/$25.00 © 2017 IEEE
A
bstract
The dramatic drop in the price of equipment
and services and the increase in efficiency have
made satellite communications (SATCOM) an
interesting choice for the deployment of major
smart grid scenarios. As a matter of fact, SAT-
COM providers are offering more and more
services dedicated to machine-to-machine com-
munications, and they expect actors in the smart
grid domain to be among the main users. How-
ever, to fruitfully integrate these communication
technologies into smart grids, it is of utmost
importance to understand the strengths and
limits of the available satellite features in light
of smart grid communication requirements and
recent advancements in the SATCOM arena.
Starting with a review of the latest trends in the
satellite market for machine-to-machine commu-
nications, relevant smart grid requirements are
classified and mapped to the most significant
smart grid applications. Then, various features
and trends of SATCOM are discussed to take
stock of their suitability and to outline future
challenges for the exploitation of SATCOM sys-
tems in smart grids.
I
ntroduction
The electric grid is currently facing massive chang-
es in light of a combination of interrelated tech-
nical, political, and economic drives. The most
important of these changes deals with making
the grid
smarter
by enabling the communication
of relevant information across the entire network.
This will help toward the creation of new services
and applications with the goal of a more efficient,
reliable, secure, and cost-effective system in all the
phases from generation to consumption.
A significant quantity of new data is being
produced by new intelligent devices such as
smart meters (SMs) and phasor measurement
units (PMUs). These will add to those already
exchanged in the smart grid (SG) by means of
supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA).
In addition, cross-domain actors such as electric
vehicles (EVs) will play an important role joining
the SG information pool.
In order to really leverage the advantages
brought by all these data producers, it is extreme-
ly important to build an information and com-
munication overlay that is able to support the
requirements dictated by the case studies while
taking into account the impact of future SG data
on the overall communication network. For this
reason, the future ICT infrastructure for the SG
must consider any viable technology including
those that have been overlooked in the past as
satellite communications (SATCOM).
SATCOM can provide extensive cover-
age and rapid installation and deployment in
those scenarios in which terrestrial commu-
nication infrastructures do not exist, are too
costly, or are not sufficient for the domain-spe-
cific requirements. In the past, the use of SAT-
COM in power systems was limited to SCADA
because of the insufficient performance and
high costs. Now, the role that SATCOM can
play in the SG domain must be rediscussed in
light of the improved performance of SATCOM
coupled with the reduction of costs and the var-
iegate quality of service (QoS) requirements
expected by new SG applications. Indeed, it
has been forecasted that by 2020, the revenue
from satellite services and equipment dedicated
to SG applications will total $368 million [1].
Based on these considerations, this article gives
a thorough overview of how to fruitfully inte-
grate SATCOMs into SG overlay networks to
understand the role SATCOMs can play in dif-
ferent application scenarios.
R
ecent
T
rends
of
SATCOM T
oward
M2M A
pplications
While in the past the primary commercial use of
SATCOM was in one-way communications for
media services, nowadays two-way communica-
tion systems such as those providing IP services
for machine-to-machine (M2M) applications are
increasingly becoming common [2]. Also, over
the years ground terminal dishes have become
smaller and satellite technologies have contin-
uously advanced, making the use of SATCOM
more efficient and less expensive. In the past, data
rates of a few kb/s were considered cutting-edge
satellite technology for the provision of IP ser-
vices. Today, data rates up to a few Mb/s are pos-
sible with compact equipment.
As a matter of fact, global leaders of SATCOM
systems have started to provide services specifi-
cally intended for M2M. Inmarsat has launched
Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) M2M,
which can reach a maximum data rate of nearly
500 kb/s, latencies below 1 s, and availability of
the service of 99.9 percent. Iridium has a network
of 66 satellites covering the whole earth with low
A
lessio
M
eloni and
L
uigi
A
tzori
T
he
R
ole
of
S
atellite
C
ommunications
in
the
S
mart
G
rid
S
mart
G
rids
The authors are with the
University of Cagliari.
Digital Object Identifier:
10.1109/MWC.2017.1600251
1...,42,43,44,45,46,47,48,49,50,51 53,54,55,56,57,58,59,60,61,62,...132
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