Share Share this | Facebook Twitter YouTube LinkedIn Flipboard

IEEE: The expertise to make smart grid a reality

Interview with Bill Ash

Bill Ash is Strategic Program Manager of the IEEE Standards Association. Ash leads the IEEE Standards Association's Smart Grid efforts by providing strategic oversight and collaborating the association's activities internally and externally.

Bill Ash discusses the importance of the standards process and the need for collaboration and partnerships in order to establish Smart Grid technologies and accelerate their market acceptance.

Question: Is the IEEE Standards Association only involved in standards development with respect to Smart Grid, or is it involved other activities?

We are involved in the full life cycle of the standard. This includes pre-standard incubation of technologies and helping to determine where gaps are and how the standards association can help grow technologies.

One of our major roles is hosting some of the early discussions that take place to create terms and definitions that can be used by everyone involved throughout the development of a technology's life cycle. We also play a role as a technology moves into post-standardization activities such as certification and testing programs. This is part of the IEEE’s Confirmatory Assessment Program, which supports a full gamut of market acceptance once standards are approved.

Question: How important is the standards process to Smart Grid evolution and implementation?

We feel it is very important. Of course, we have a biased viewpoint, but even if that was not the case, the standards process would still be very important in order to grow Smart Grid markets globally and allow for interoperability of Smart Grid technology. Standards provide implementers, manufacturers and integrators alike with the ability to define and implement new and existing technology as Smart Grid evolves.

Question: Could Smart Grid exist without those standards?

On a small scale, I think Smart Grid could exist without standards and proprietary implementation. But to realize the full potential of Smart Grid on a global scale, standards are a must. There is no way that the integration and interoperability of the technologies will be able to evolve without standards.

Question: What innovations in Smart Grid technology do you see and how do standards play a role in that realm?

We are seeing a lot of innovation and the need for innovation. For example, the impact of the tsunami in Japan and the country’s change in focus on becoming less dependent on nuclear power. And there is the integration of renewables such as large scale wind farms or small photovoltaic (PV) generation equipment to form microgrids. We are also seeing many advancements in monitoring, control and the ability to sense data and information, which in turn enable Smart Grid to evolve into many different technology spaces. There also is growth that allows the use of existing technology for new applications or the use of newly created technology to solve some of those issues.

Question: How can Smart Grid standards help countries that are moving away from nuclear power?

Countries like Japan and Germany that now have a mandate to move away from the use of nuclear power are going to have to be able to replace it with something else. They will need to integrate renewable power sources into the grid without disrupting what is in place. Standards are going to be a key component for those looking at solar, wind, biogas or any type of technology to be a factor and come onto the grid for generations to come.

Question: What are some examples of existing standards, or work that is underway, that will enable Smart Grid?

The IEEE Standards Association has more than 100 standards that are part of the foundation of Smart Grid. Key examples include IEEE 2030, which brings the typically segmented IT, communications and power societies together to identify interfaces for Smart Grid. It enables them to develop requirements for those interfaces and provides a methodology for additional interfaces in the future.

IEEE P1901.2 enables an electric vehicle to use narrowband communications to actually communicate to and from the grid whether the vehicle is being charged using AC power or DC power. Our 802 family of standards allows data and communications to take place from the utility demarcation point on top of the home. This in turn allows the communications required for monitoring control to take place. These are just a few of the standards being implemented throughout Smart Grid space.

Question: Are IEEE Smart Grid standards developing globally?

Participants from more than 160 countries across Asia, India and Europe are participating in the standards development arena. This level of participation allows IEEE Standards to make use of input from the many different regions of the world. It also provides for a global consensus building process and greater market acceptance of global standards.

Question: Does the IEEE Standards Association work with other standards development organizations on an international basis for Smart Grid?

Yes, it is our policy that no single standards development organization is capable of covering all the needs for standards for Smart Grid. Partnering and collaboration is necessary for Smart Grid to evolve. We have agreements that allow for the adoption of IEEE Standards and joint development with other organizations in the international community. This enables us to help the global market grow and to leverage our partnerships with other standards organizations.

Question: What one message about Smart Grid would you want to communicate to others?

Standards are very important in order to realize Smart Grid's potential and the IEEE Standards Association provides the industry with an environment for collaboration and consensus building, and we are interested in partnering with the industry. We engage communities from the time a technology enters its incubation period through the time to develop standards, then take technology through certification, deployment, testing and other stages of market acceptance.

Question: What other organizations does the IEEE work with to create Smart Grid standards?

We work with a multitude of other organizations, internally and externally. We leverage the available expertise across a broad spectrum within and outside the IEEE. In Smart Grid's technology space we work with organizations such as, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), International Organization for Standardization (ISO), ISO/IEC Joint Technical Committee 1 (JTC1), Society of Automotive Engineers International (SAE) and other standards development organizations and government agencies such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Question: What is the IEEE Standards Association’s approach to Smart Grid evolution?

We are partnering with the IEEE Society and organizations in other technology spaces to look at how Smart Grid is going evolve. Together we are examining the way it will impact communications, IT, power, control systems, and vehicles and we are developing long-term visions that reach beyond 2030. We are asking what Smart Grid will do for each sector and how it will have to evolve to get us there. These collaborative activities help the IEEE and the industry identify the potential of Smart Grid and the technology that is going to be needed to realize the long-term vision.