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IoT & M2M Utilities & Renewables

July 20, 2023

SCADASat – Empowering Remote Power Utility Operations

In the ever-evolving landscape of modern power utilities, remote ‘off-grid’ sites hold a critical place in delivering reliable electricity supply to distant and challenging regions. However, ensuring seamless communication at these remote power utility sites proves to be a complex undertaking. Traditional cellular and fiber connectivity, while highly effective in urban areas, fall short when faced with the unique communication challenges of these off-grid locations.

Most power utility, oil and gas and water management companies have approximately 10-20% of remote sites that are ‘off grid’. These remote power utility sites often lack reliable access to cellular networks and terrestrial fiber infrastructure, making it impractical or cost-prohibitive to deploy these conventional connectivity solutions. Moreover, these remote sites may also be situated in environmentally sensitive areas or regions with rough terrain, further limiting the feasibility of installing extensive communication networks.

In these contexts, customer data backhaul from these sites requires innovative approaches that go beyond the traditional terrestrial and cellular norms. It’s also essential to recognize the distinction between customer data backhaul and SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) and telemetry data backhaul. Blending the two could raise significant cybersecurity concerns, thereby demanding a specialized solution exclusively designed for SCADA and telemetry data.

In this blog, we’ll explore the key data connectivity and backhaul challenges for remote power utility providers and discuss how SCADASat is a reliable and robust communication solution tailored explicitly to meet the unique requirements of remote power utility sites.

How SCADSat overcomes the key data challenges for power utilities

1. Unlimited Communication Infrastructure

Remote areas often lack reliable communication infrastructure, such as wired internet or cellular networks. SCADASat utilizes satellite communication to overcome this limitation, ensuring that data can be transmitted to and from the remote sites even in areas with no or limited terrestrial connectivity.

2. Real-time Monitoring and Control

Remote power utility sites might be unmanned or difficult to access regularly due to their remote site situation, but any downtime or loss of energy production can be costly. SCADAsat enables real-time monitoring and control of critical assets, such as generators, switchgear, and substations, from a central control center, allowing operators to respond quickly to any issues or anomalies, optimizing power output and maximizing power generation.

3. Enhanced Grid Reliability

By continuously monitoring the remote power sites, SCADASat helps identify potential problems and weaknesses in the grid, as they occur in real-time, enabling proactive maintenance and repairs. This proactive approach enhances overall grid reliability and minimizes the risk of large-scale outages. Satellite is also highly reliable and unlike terrestrial and fiber, is unaffected by coverage, weather events and ground infrastructure.

4. Robustness against extreme weather events

The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction reports that over the last 20 years, there has been a “staggering rise” in the number of extreme weather events. Floods, fires, storms and earthquakes, all risk the stability, reliability and telemetry data delivery of sites reliant on cellular and fiber. As SCADASat is satellite-based, connectivity is much more reliable and stable.

5. Highly secure

Cyber-attacks are on the rise around the world and utility powerhouses have been targets. SCADASat ensures encrypted and authenticated data transmission between remote power sites and the central control center. The dedicated satellite network provides a private and isolated communication channel, safeguarding against cyber threats and unauthorized access; making for a trusted and effective solution for power utilities’ communication needs in remote locations.


A detailed look at SCADASat

SCADASat is a narrowband private satellite network and is the optimal solution for remote monitoring, controlling, and surveillance of smart power grids. SCADASat enables power utilities to cost-effectively and reliably connect even the most remote assets to important utility applications such as SCADA transmission, telemetry and M2M – all in a secure network.

The platform is highly scalable and suits the needs of both small and medium-sized networks, with low operating costs compared to the new installation and maintenance of fiber connectivity. It is compatible with both IP and legacy serial devices and operates independently from terrestrial communications systems, both complementing and offering an alternative solution to terrestrial networks, ensuring transmission at all times.

The rugged hardware is specifically engineered to provide years of reliable operation in the harshest environments and is the most robust solution in adverse weather conditions – unlike cellular and fiber. SCADASat complies with IEC-61850 – the global standard for utility and industrial communication and automation. Through vigorous testing, Ground Control solutions are certified in the Worldwide Industrial Telemetry Standards (WITS) DNP3 protocol which sets the global standard for the utility industry telemetry control and monitoring requirements, and in particular, the interoperability between equipment from different manufacturers.


Save costs and be secure

The Department of Transportation put the average cost of laying fiber at $27,000 per mile. Further to the costly installation, there’s the ongoing truck roll expense to consider with an experienced Field Engineer costing, on average, $68,132 per year. Over a typical 10-year hardware lifetime, this amounts to $680,132; of course not all of their time will be spent visiting remote utility sites, but a proportion will.

Installing SCADASat mitigates this cost almost entirely as the terminal is remotely managed. SCADASat is always-on and relays data in real-time, ensuring prompt and guaranteed servicing.

The SCADASat HUB is the lowest cost VSAT HUB on the market. By efficiently using the satellite spectrum, and tailoring satellite bandwidth to the actual application needs, annual communication costs are reduced to a minimum. This makes SCADASat the ideal primary as a backup for existing terrestrial communications.

SCADASat – Private Satellite Network

Like to know more?

With over 40 years of combined knowledge of satellite experience, the Ground Control team is well placed to help keep you connected when it matters the most.

With complete satellite connectivity solutions for any situation and application, we’ve got you covered.

Whatever your communication or connectivity needs, we can help.