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Alstom and Cisco to develop secure digital substation automation solution

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Alstom Grid and Cisco today announced the signing of a commercial and technology agreement to develop the next generation of digital substation solutions for electrical grids.


This collaboration leverages Alstom’s smart grid expertise in digital substation solutions with Cisco’s leadership in connected grid solutions and internet protocol (IP) communication technologies; together providing a solution that further supports the industry’s grid modernisation efforts.

The joint solution, which integrates Cisco’s ruggedised substation-grade Connected Grid routers and switches with communications and cyber-security functions along with Alstom’s cutting edge DS Agile control system for substation automation, will create a new level of IP-based communication performance for integrated cyber security, distributed monitoring and controls. This will provide key energy and information transfer hubs within modern grid architectures.

The benefits for electric utilities and substation operators include:
1. Enhanced security in smart grid-enabled digital substations: The Alstom-Cisco solution enables utility operators to provide comprehensive protection to address security policies, manage user access to critical resources, and the ability to detect and mitigate possible cyber attacks across the entire grid infrastructure. The digital substation architecture incorporates comprehensive security controls based on NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) and IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) recommendations.

2. Enhanced operational efficiency through optimised automation architecture: This layered architectural approach provides optimal deployment for substation automation and the design phase of technology implementation. It also allows easy design and integration of communication infrastructure with the critical protection and control, asset monitoring and grid management equipment. The intelligence within the validated digital substation schemes will allow close monitoring of the load capacity of plant equipment and permits operation of grid equipment closer to their limits. Additionally, the substation network supports existing and new communication standards such as IEC 61850, as well as the prioritisation of control data traffic over non-operations data traffic.

3. Reduced operations and maintenance costs: The joint digital substation solution, based on Cisco’s multi-service network and Alstom’s next generation IEDs, will provide utilities the flexibility to deploy multiple applications over a common network infrastructure. The solution uses a layered architecture approach, enabling it to support both wired and wireless communications over the same converged network. The solution allows asset managers to implement preventive maintenance programs resulting in longer asset life and lower maintenance costs. The solution also provides intelligent systems for substation operators to monitor and control all substation assets for optimising operations costs.

Patrick Plas, senior vice-president for grid power and automation, Alstom Grid said: “This partnership between Alstom and Cisco brings our digital substation offering to yet another level of performance and reliability for our customers. We very much look forward to implementing its next steps and move towards the commercial roll-out of the solutions.”

“Cisco has always recognised the need to develop sustainable partnerships in the effort to achieve a smarter grid. Cisco’s collaboration with Alstom brings together two sets of complementary technologies that will allow our joint customers to secure their operations, achieve cost savings and extract greater value from existing technology infrastructure. We look forward to our continued collaboration with Alstom in developing the most effective substation solutions for the industry,” said Lionel Chocron, vice-president and general manager for connected energy networks at Cisco.

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