Dueling Digital Substation Forecasts: It's All Good

Oct. 18, 2018
Digital substations enable electric power utilities to improve functionality, reliability and resiliency

According to a report preview issued by Transparency Market Research (TMR) the global digital substation market, defined as module hardware, fiber optic communication network and SCADA, in the combined transmission and distribution substation categories is expected to realize over $12 billion by 2026. The announcement indicated TMR believes the U.S. market will lead global demand followed by the Asia-Pacific region and that the transmission substation segment will experience the most robust growth. 

Another report announced this summer by ResearchAndMarkets.com entitled "Global Digital Substation Market - Technologies, Market share and Industry Forecast to 2024" by OBRC Analysis predicts that the global digital substation market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 11.9% during the forecasted period of 2017-2024.  In contrast to TMR’s preview, OBRC predicts that the Asia-Pacific will be the fastest growing region for digital substations for the forecast period through 2023. 

Key market players in the global digital substation market include ABB Ltd.,  Siemens, Honeywell International Cisco, Schneider Electric, Eaton, Emerson Electric Co., Larsen & Toubro, NR Electric Co. and Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc.  The OBRC report describes the above and several additional participants in the digital substation market as well as the competitive landscape, key strategies, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, partnerships and more. 

As this author has reported on numerous occasions, digital substations enable electric power utilities to improve functionality, reliability and resiliency; improve safety for service personnel; increase productivity; and reduce operation and maintenance costs. OBRC Analysis reports that the key trend for the global digital substation market today is technological innovation. This seems evident from the growth in the market simultaneous with the transition of essentially all aspects of the power industry to one that is digitally based.  

Even two years ago, an eon in technology terms, key market players in the digital substation industry were emphasizing that the digital transformation with greater levels of control and open standards using commercial ethernet created huge benefits, but also opened new cyber security issues for digital substations.  In their paper titled “Protection and Control System Impacts from the Digital World”  Stefan Meier and Steven Kunsman, both from ABB, emphasized the importance of education regarding cyber security standards as a key enabler to our modern monitoring and control systems.  The authors highlighted IEEE C37.240,  IEC 62351 and IEEE 1686 In addition to the NERC CIP regulations  as containing important technical requirements and sound engineering practices of use to digital system designers and operators.  The paper can be found here: http://www.electricenergyonline.com/energy/magazine/996/article/Protection-and-Control-System-Impacts-from-the-Digital-World-Part-2-of-2.htm.

If you are interested in more background regarding substation automation standards or simply want to view a ton of useful photos, diagrams and graphics concerning the NERC standards and digital communication protocols, check out the proceedings from the NERC Emerging Technology Roundtable – Substation Automation/IEC 61850 held on Nov. 15-16, 2016.  

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