Viability of Powerline Communication for Smart Grid Realization
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There is an international effort to develop smart grids to overcome the problems caused by aging power grids. However, to immigrate to the new grid, the IT infrastructure has to be integrated with the current power grid. There is currently an ongoing debate surrounding what would be the best choice for smart grid communication technology. One of the promising communication technologies for smart grid realization is powerline communication (PLC). PLC provides utilities the opportunity of managing their own network infrastructure. Power cables are everywhere; even rural areas are covered with power cables. However, because of its noisy environment and the low capacity of narrowband powerline communication (NBPLC), its viability for smart grid realization is being questioned. To investigate this issue, smart grid communication network requirements and powerline communication technologies and channel models are studied. Then, using MATLAB and Network Simulator-2, powerline communication and a smart grid communication network (SGCN) are simulated. The performance of different powerline channels for smart grid realization is investigated and a viable PLC infrastructure for smart grid communication network is proposed. Furthermore, to have a better understanding of the viability of powerline communication for the smart grid, some future smart grid advanced applications are investigated and integrated to the system. It is shown that although two types of powerline channels do not perform well, the proposed powerline communication infrastructure, even under advanced traffic, is capable of providing the smart grid with its communication prerequisites.