Renesas – Powerline Communication – “There’s life in the old dog yet”
Narrowband powerline communication (NB-PLC) technologies enjoy enduring success and are set to remain vital components of the smart grid landscape.
When it comes to narrowband powerline communication technologies, the saying “There’s life in the old dog yet!” applies rather well, since many experts predicted that cellular technologies would quickly replace PLC in existing applications.
In the dynamic world of the smart grid industry, where technology evolves at breakneck speed, one might question the resilience of narrowband powerline technologies like PRIME in the face of emerging alternatives such as NB-IoT and LTE.
However, there are compelling reasons why these established technologies have not only survived but continue to thrive, playing an indispensable role in the evolution of smart grid.
Narrowband powerline technologies had their breakthrough about two decades ago. Since then, they have been deployed in a few hundred million installations all over the world.
There were voices at the beginning suggesting that the technologies are not robust enough to sustain communication in the noisy environment of a usual powerline infrastructure. However, in the end, one of the key reasons why technologies such as the PRIME standard have stood the test of time is their proven reliability.
These technologies have been deployed worldwide for decades and have consistently demonstrated their ability to transmit data efficiently and securely over powerlines. Furthermore, this widespread adoption creates a network effect that further reinforces their position in the smart grid industry.
Decision makers in the smart grid industry understand the importance of reliability. This, in addition to the large user base and the ecosystem that has evolved around these technologies, makes them a trusted, low-risk choice.
Interoperability is another factor that is crucial for the success of any technology used in a smart grid.
Narrowband powerline technologies have made significant strides in ensuring interoperability between different devices and vendors, facilitating the integration of various components in the grid. This cross-compatibility minimises vendor lock-in and allows DSOs, for example, the flexibility to choose the best components for their specific needs.
Also, with respect to security these technologies have demonstrated their ability to maintain the confidentiality and integrity of data transmitted over powerlines. This long-standing track record of security is a key factor in their continued success.
Smart grid applications often require low latency communication for real-time monitoring and control. NB-PLC technologies excel in this regard, providing the low latency necessary for applications such as fault detection, load management and grid optimisation.
The technologies can also play a complementary role alongside emerging technologies like NB-IoT and LTE. In hybrid networks, these established technologies can help fill coverage gaps and provide a robust infrastructure that ensures continuity and reliability.
The cost efficiency of narrowband powerline technologies, both in terms of initial infrastructure investment and ongoing maintenance, remains unmatched by many alternatives. Decision makers recognise the importance of optimising costs, and these technologies align with that objective.
In many regions, regulations and standards have been developed to support the deployment of narrowband powerline technologies in the smart grid. This regulatory backing provides operators with confidence in the long-term viability of these solutions.
Renesas Electronics, a leading semiconductor manufacturer, has introduced its powerline solution portfolio, which includes the R9A06G037 and R9A06G061 models. These powerline solutions offer major features such as open standard support (R9A06G037), high-speed communication (R9A06G061) and robust performance, enabling reliable data transmission over existing power lines.
With their advanced technology, Renesas’ powerline solutions provide significant benefits, like cost-effectiveness and easy integration into various applications, making them an ideal choice for smart grid systems and home automation applications.
In conclusion, the success and enduring relevance of narrowband powerline technologies like PRIME in the smart grid industry can be attributed to their reliability, established infrastructure, widespread adoption, interoperability, security, low latency, cost efficiency and regulatory support.
These technologies offer a solid foundation for the smart grid, while also having the flexibility to coexist with and complement emerging technologies like NB-IoT and LTE.
Decision makers in the smart grid industry should continue to recognise the value and resilience of these technologies as they chart the course for the grid of the future.
About Renesas Electronics Corporation
Renesas Electronics Corporation (TSE: 6723) empowers a safer, smarter and more sustainable future where technology helps make our lives easier. The leading global provider of microcontrollers, Renesas combines our expertise in embedded processing, analogue, power and connectivity to deliver complete semiconductor solutions. These Winning Combinations accelerate time to market for automotive, industrial, infrastructure and IoT applications, enabling billions of connected, intelligent devices that enhance the way people work and live.
Christos Aslanidis manages the Business Development Department for Connectivity Solutions in EMEA for Renesas Electronics Europe. He has been working in the semiconductor industry for more than 25 years.
About PRIME Alliance
PRIME (PoweRline Intelligent Metering Evolution) Alliance AISBL was created in 2009 to define an open and future-proofed communications PLC-based infrastructure to support large scale smart metering and other smart grid deployments. The goal of the Alliance is to provide a framework in which the smart metering and smart grid industry have access to open detailed technical specifications in order to develop fully interoperable solutions, allowing multiple vendors to be operational within the same distribution network in one common system architecture.
Visit www.prime-alliance.org for more information.