An overview of 5G and its applications in the power grid

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An overview of 5G and its applications in the power grid

An overview of 5G and its applications in the power grid

By: Deena Ashna

It has further implications in new emerging technologies of autonomous vehicles, robots, medical devices, industrial equipment, agriculture machines, smart electrical grids, etc. The faster the data is linked and controlled, the quicker and better the machines perform.

Every ten years or less, a new generation of wireless communication with higher speed is introduced to the world. The first generation (1G) wireless technology was introduced in 1979 based on an analog signal. The analog signal could not cover long distances; therefore, in 1991, the second generation (2G) entered the industry using digital signals. The 2G had enabled the data service on mobile phones, through which SMS, picture message, and MMS services were provided to the customers [1]. In 1998 third-generation wireless technology (3G) launched with key features of a high degree of commonality of design worldwide, compatibility of services, use of small pocket terminals with worldwide roaming capability, Internet and other multimedia applications, and a wide range of services and terminals [2]. Fourth generation (4G) wireless communication was presented in 2008. It is an all-IP based technology capable of providing as high as 1Gbps [3].

Scientist in the area of wireless communication is extensively researching to launch the fifth-generation (5G) wireless technology by 2020. Although there is no unique definition for 5G [4], technologists have assigned a set of standards for 5G to accomplish. The 5G is expected to provide a peak data rate of 10 Gbps, extended battery life for devices, 10000 times network capacity of 4G, less than 1 msec end to end latency, etc. [5].

 Features of the 5G wireless technology

Some features are set forth for the 5th generation system; the most important of them are as follows:

Pervasive networks: A large-scale network that a device concurrently can connect to multiple wireless technologies.

Group cooperative relay: This technique is considered to make higher data rates available over a more extensive area of the cell. [6]

Cognitive radio technology: It would enable the user equipment to look up at the radio landscape in which it is located and choose the optimum radio access network, modulation scheme, and other parameters to configure itself to gain the best connection and optimum performance [3].

Smart Antennas: Another major element of 5G wireless technology is intelligent antennas. Using smart antennas makes it possible to alter the beam direction to enable more direct communications and limit interference [7]

  1. Top use cases of 5G

The top use cases of 5G wireless communication are fixed wireless, enhanced mobile broadband, massive IoT (or Massive Machine-Type-Communications), ultra-reliable low-latency communication, and enhanced event experience. In addition to the cases above, 5G will provide the foundational infrastructure for building smart cities, which will push mobile network performance and capability requirements to their extremes [8]. Moreover, the 5G wireless technology has a broad use case in a smart power grid regarding control, protection, and monitoring. The next section of the paper provides further detail on the application of 5G technology in smart power grids.

  • Use cases of 5G in smart power grids

5G wireless technology will allow a higher number of unconnected electric devices to connect and provide accurate, frequent, and continuous data streaming with less latency for the system. This advantage of 5G in smart grids will increase the precision of protection, monitoring, control, and operation in utility and provides adequate data for the system, resulting in the smart power grid’s better and safe operation. The capturing of information through 5G augments the demand-side management to support load balancing, which in turn manages to reduce peaks in load consumption, which ultimately results in a lower cost of electricity.

The integration of renewable energy has enabled distributed energy resources (DER) in smart grids where the utilities can install the generation plants close to the load centers. DER requires an enhanced protection system to prevent outages in the grid and deliver reliable power to the customer. One of the finest ways to enhance the protection system is to use differential relays in the grid, which is merely based on the system’s communication infrastructure. 5G communication technology can provide easy access to required data and enable new methods for protection algorithms without the need for a new communication infrastructure currently used in smart grids [9].

  1. Drawbacks and limitations of 5G

It is estimated that even by 2025, the 5G wireless network will still lag behind the 4G and 3G in terms of global mobile connections [10]. According to cellular technology.

There are many hurdles towards the rapid growth of 5G, but the most substantial problem is the cost of deploying the 5G in the market. The transition of 3G to 4G for most network operators were relatively cheap to set up because the 4G was able to be rolled out on the same frequency used in the 3G. But the 5G requires frequency with much bigger bandwidth to work properly, and this requirement impulse the network operators to change the entire existing infrastructure.

The 5G wireless waveforms travel in much smaller wavelengths than 4G, and this requirement of 5G demands the cell towers to be installed much closer. The 4G receptors can currently cover the range of up to 70 km, whereas the 5G can travel an abridged length of 300 meters. Therefore, the 5G network will need thousands of mini-base stations worldwide to cover devices that are much more complex and much more expensive [11].  Nevertheless, the size of 5G base stations will considerably reduce because high-frequency devices occupy smaller space [12].

  1. Conclusion

This paper gives an overview of wireless technology evolution. It discusses the features, top use cases, the drawbacks and limitations of 5G, and details 5G technology applications in smart power grids. By the implementation of 5G, the industries will experience manifold growth in their business.


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