High-Performance Wireless Communications for Smart Grids
Abstract: The increased energy needs of today’s society, as well as the necessity for improved and more sustainable energy management impose the transition from the traditional power grids to the smart grids. Smart grids are enabled by the advances in Information and Communication technologies and automation. Such an implementation would allow more efficient energy management and distribution, as well as increase the reliability and its capability to host distributed renewable sources, as required to meet decarbonization goals. Wireless communications are expected to take an active part in the realization of smart grids, since they reduce the installation cost and allow deployment flexibility. The choice between wired or wireless communications for each communication link is made depending on the application requirements, as well as the environment around the link. Even though wireless communications are more cost efficient and easy to deploy, wired communications are usually more reliable. However, the benefits gained from the adoption of wireless communications concern both the energy providers and the end users, and therefore are very significant. Hence, a lot of research has been conducted on several wireless technologies for smart grid applications. This thesis investigates a novel wireless technology, the IEEE 802.11ax WiFi standard, and its potential applicability for smart grid communications, and more specifically, for substation communications. The performance of 802.11ax was tested through simulations. The network performance was in general sufficient as long as the number of WiFi clients was limited (up to 7), while progressively decreasing with a higher number of clients. OFDMA is a multiple access technology introduced in 802.11ax that was not tested in this thesis, and is worth looking into, as it could potentially satisfy the imposed requirements.
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