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Q: what business or devepmental opportunities do you see in your space for the smart grid?

Matthew Tyler, ON Semiconductor,

As the term "Smart Grid" expands beyond its original concept due to granular load shedding and information-based behavior, so do the potential solutions and touch-points to the grid. There is a greater need than ever for suppliers to provide a broad portfolio of products and solutions for the Smart Grid and everything that connects to it. We are seeing an evolution of Home Area Networks (HAN) and Neighborhood Area Networks (NAN) and the ways in which metrology and communications might expand in these areas. We are also seeing growth opportunities in areas that support and optimize the grid including the need for greater energy efficiency and power optimization as well as the increased functional demands on Microcontrollers and communications solutions for next generation end-markets.


Ross Sabolcik, Silicon Laboratories,

The smart grid, and in particular the smart metering and communications infrastructure, requires robust and reliable performance, which drives the need for underlying semiconductor building blocks in the areas of wireline and wireless communications, safety and isolation, computation, sensing and timing (clock generation and frequency control).


As a high-performance, analog-intensive mixed-signal semiconductor company, Silicon Labs is helping customers build these robust smart grid solutions. Leveraging high-performance wireless radio links to interconnect the metering mesh networks tied to a wide range of computational cores ranging from 8-bit through 32-bit, developers can create optimized computation and communication networks for the smart grid.

Mel Herman, TDK-Lambda Americas,

There are many different views of what constitutes the "Smart Grid" and indeed its definition and scope is still evolving. However, 1 think wc all agree with the main goals of the "smart grid," which are to maximize the efficiency of existing power generation and transmission, develop alternative/renewable power sources and utilize the power we have more efficiently. Towards this end, I recently had my home's electric and gas meters replaced by smart meters, courtesy of the local utility provider. This change has put some meter-readers out of work, but will enable the utility company to monitor, in real time, the electricity usage of communities, towns and cities and adjust their power generation and resource allocations more quickly and efficiently.


Harvey Wilkinson, loxus,

Currently, ultracapacitors are being used in utility meters to provide power required to remotely query the meters and gather and provide usage data. They are ideal for this application because of the very long cycle life, high burst power and wide temperature operating range. On a related application, ultracapacitors can provide backup power for grid transmission and distribution communications when the grid has a power outage. Having a long, maintenance-free life, an ultracapacitor is much better suited for this application than a battery.


The smart grid will facilitate more renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind energy to be integrated and controlled on the grid. Ultracapacitors are being used now in pitch control systems of wind turbines to provide emergency power to protect the wind turbines in case of power outages during high wind situations. Most offshore wind turbines and increasingly more land-based wind turbines use ultracapacitors for this purpose.

Ultracapacitors can also be used in conjunction with lead acid batteries to provide frequency regulation ancillary services on the grid. The technology will meet the grid requirement for very fast response, frequently cycled power to closely balance the grid supply with load. In the longer term, as ultracapacitors increase in energy density several fold, they will be used in standalone systems to provide this important grid regulation, particularly as more renewables are added to the grid.

Brian Bedrosian, Broadcom,

Adoption of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless technologies in consumer electronics and appliances continues to grow. While the adoption of these connectivity technologies has been primarily driven by the desire to extend the user experience and provide monitoring and control functionality via mobile and internet connections, application to the "smart grid" electrical system is making these wireless connections increasingly relevant. In discussions of the smart grid, most observers tend to pay more attention to the connection from the home to the larger smart grid overlay network. However, without a robust and interoperable network within the home, the efficacy of the smart grid suffers.

Broadcom is working to integrate Wi-Fi into many home electronics and appliances, partnering with some of the best known brands to ensure that devices like washing machines and air conditioners have a cost-effective and convenient mechanism for sharing status, power demand and other information with the broader grid. And beyond simply adapting our existing Wi-Fi solutions to this application, we're working with the industry to manage the evolution of the Wi-Fi standard to make it more conducive to these applications, architecting new products that not only fulfill the in-home networking needs of a new spectrum of home devices, but also to facilitate broader smart grid connectivity.

Jerry Seams, TT electronics,

Electrical grids around the world are undergoing a momentous transformation. The "smart grid" is finding its way into every developing and industrialized nation in the world. Smart grid technology is enabling an overhaul of utility delivery systems not seen since the advent of widespread electrical distribution in the early 1900's. And who benefits from this new technology? We all do. Smarter electrical transmission and distribution helps us all by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, utilizing existing infrastructure more efficiently, reducing our utility bills and by making our air healthier to breathe.


Smart meters are a key component of the smart grid. Smart meters allow customers and electricity providers to better understand and control their power usage. Trends are easier to identify and electricity generation can be more closely matched to customer demand with less waste.

Smart meter manufacturers select components based on component properties and solutions often unique to smart meter design. Evaluating myriad component choices and complex performance characteristics for the best meter performance can be a challenging and time consuming process for design engineers. Smart meters must survive harsh environments, lightning strikes and power surges while accurately and continuously measuring high voltages and widely varying electrical currents for many years in a harsh outdoor environment.

TT electronics' current sense and precise voltage measurement resistors provide vital solutions for the specialized needs of smart meter design.

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Title Annotation:Power
Publication:ECN-Electronic Component News
Article Type:Interview
Date:Aug 1, 2011
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