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Electromagnetic Compatibility of Smart Grid Devices and Systems


Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) ensures that all electrical and electronic devices function reliably in their intended environments.  This compatibility maintains reliability and quality performance, reduces interference to other devices, and enhances safety.  A significant aspect of the smart grid architecture is the introduction of new electronic devices for grid communication and control functions, which in many cases must function in harsh electromagnetic environments typical of utility, industrial, commercial, and residential locations.  Due to an ever increasing density of electromagnetic emitters (radiated and conducted, intentional and unintentional) in the environment, the new equipment must have adequate immunity in order to function consistently and reliably, be resilient to major disturbances, and coexist with other equipment.  The most effective way to achieve the requisite level of compatibility is by designing and testing to national or international EMC standards.  This project will develop the measurement science necessary to enable EMC testing methodologies and standards for new smart grid systems, most notably in the area of proposed wireless networks and other systems being deployed in utility and customer locations.  The project complements and leverages work within the CTL RF Technology Division in broadband wireless systems, homeland security, EMC and electromagnetic field metrology.


Objective - To develop measurement methods, interference models, and metrics to improve Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) testing for communications and other systems deployed in smart grid (SG) environments; and to provide technical input to smart grid EMC standards activities to meet performance and interoperability requirements.

What is the new technical idea? The technical idea is to work directly with the smart grid stakeholders (utilities, customers, manufacturers, test laboratories, Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) and EMC experts) to identify priority EMC requirements; to develop or improve laboratory measurement methods and models to more accurately reflect these requirements; and to develop recommendations for implementing these techniques into EMC test standards.

What is the research plan? Task A:Develop laboratory testing methods that apply existing EMC standards to smart grid electronics (e.g., smart meters, communications systems, and microprocessor based devices) operating in environments that emulate electric power grid and utility consumer conditions. Investigate merging EMC testing with operational tests using representative laboratory test-beds.

  1. Investigate EMC immunity testing standards to determine if they are representative and appropriate for smart grid environments.
  2. Study "installed" environments – determine if published data of estimated electromagnetic environments are representative of residential, commercial, and industrial/utility locations.

Task B: Develop laboratory test methods for EMC, Electromagnetic Interference (EMI), and coexistence for wireless communications systems employed in complex electromagnetic environments such as the home, industrial site or power plant. These tests may include unintentional out-of-band and in-band radio frequency interference, and intentional EMI (e.g. jamming). The development will draw upon the Priority Action Plan (PAP) 2 characterization of wireless technology in the smart grid to ensure that appropriate communication technology and information exchange activities are considered, particularly for the EMI/coexistence tests. 

  1. 1. Analyze data to extract representative values of channel characteristics and interference from other RF sources.
  2. 2. Study existing test procedures for EMC/EMI/coexistence for wireless devices that may be used in substations, power plants and other facilities where high field levels or RF interference may exist.
  3. 3. Modify existing tests and, where necessary, develop other laboratory-based tests for wireless systems (e.g., in smart meters) that emulate smart grid EM environments.

Disseminate findings and test methods to standards body.

Task C:Monitor and support Smart Grid EMC standards development within the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). Participate in IEEE and IEC EMC committees and working groups as appropriate. Continue activity in SGIP – Electromagnetic Interoperability Issues Working Group (EMIIWG). Participate in the ANSI C63 Working Group on coexistence testing.

Major Accomplishments:

Technology Transfer Outcomes: :

  • With NIST leadership, the SGIP Electromagnetic Interoperability Issues Working Group published its SGIP white paper titled “Electromagnetic Compatibility and Smart Grid Interoperability Issues.” The paper looks at EMC issues and standards in a variety of different environments—both within the electric utility system and within power customer settings—and provides guidance for applying documented EMC principles to better ensure the operation and interoperability of the smart grid in its intended electromagnetic (EM) environments. This culmination of an extensive EMC analysis and standards review is likely to have significant use and impact to motivate the revision of several smart grid standards including the ANSI C12.1 standard for smart meters.