University: The University of Sydney

School: The School of Electrical and Information Engineering

Research group: Centre of Excellence in Telecommunications

The Centre specializes in a broad area of wireless communication systems, including transmission, adaptive signal processing, protocols, routing, network architectures, network security, location estimation and network traffic modelling. The research outcomes have wide applications in cellular, sensor and intelligent power networks. The laboratory is engaged in both fundamental and applied research. The activities are focused on providing research support to the telecommunications industry. A wide range of research projects have been undertaken in cooperation with local and international industry.


Simulation platform for smart grid communications networks

Smart meters are a promising technology which allows for the constantly monitoring of energy usage. This has many benefits, including cost savings for customers, smoothing out energy usage throughout the day, and potentially reducing the need for expensive infrastructures such as peak power stations in the future.  

To facilitate communication between the smart meters and the data collection centre, wireless devices can be used. Wireless transmission offers many advantages over traditional wired transmission, including ease of deployment. It is well understood that future wireless infrastructures, in particular mobile telecommunication networks, will be based upon 3GPP LTE. 3GPP LTE refers to a new high performance air interface for cellular communications, with the aim to provide high capacity and reliability by utilizing advanced technologies.  

Although smart meters have been successfully trialled by a portion of Energy Australia customers, a complete nation-wide deployment of smart meter technology will result in new issues which need to be addressed. Future deployment of smart meters will require millions of meters’ data to be uploaded to a data collection centre. When multiple meters transmit at the same time, collisions can occur, which can potentially result in data loss. Therefore, future smart meter networks should have the capacity to support a large network load. The growing number of smart meters will also bring about other important issues which need to be addressed, such as much lower latency, strict reliability requirements, energy efficiency and infrastructure and hardware costs.

In this project, we use OPNET to develop a system-level simulation platform to simulate the large scale smart grid communications networks.

Existing wireless network solutions for smart grid applications will be first evaluated via the simulation platform. Based on the performance evaluation, we will re-design and optimize the smart grid communications network to satisfy the unique requirement of smart grid networks, such as low latency, scalable with a large number of meters, etc. A systematic joint design of physical layer technology, MAC layer scheduling and upper layer will be carried out and the proposed design will be fully evaluated by OPNET simulation platform. The results will provide useful guidance for practical smart grid network design.