Hitachi Energy Taps 5G, NB-IoT and Cat-M For Electrical Grid

The modern electrical grid has been developing since the 1950s, and for the most part, has been able to keep up with technological advancements. The largely decentralized system of thousands of utilities and power plants and millions of power lines has been able to provide relatively affordable and reliable electricity to hundreds of millions of consumers for nearly a hundred years. However, due to a rise in renewable energy use, and rapid technological innovation spurred by digital transformation, the need to enhance the distribution side of the grid has never been stronger. 

Luckily, where modern technology has created a problem, it also offers a solution. Through the increased deployment of new technology to control and communicate electricity flows, the electrical grid can be modernized into a smart grid. A smart grid differs from the traditional grid in that it allows two-way communication of electricity data, rather than a one-way flow.

This would enable real time data collection concerning electricity supply and demand during the transmission and distribution process, making monitoring, generation, consumption, and maintenance more efficient. Increased wireless communication capabilities for the distribution grid would also provide operators with a variety of benefits, most notably increased visibility. This would allow operators to quickly see, respond to and fix problems, such as power line leakages, equipment failures, and electricity theft, among others. 

Overall, the global smart grid market was valued at USD 43.1 billion back at the end of 2021, but is expected to grow at a CAGR of 19.1 percent, with experts estimating a market value of USD 103.4 billion by 2026. However, as more countries around the world begin to turn to intermittent renewable energy, distributed energy resources (DERs), and electric vehicles and buildings, the need for smart grid solutions is only going to continue to rise, possibly surpassing the estimates put forth by the experts. 

Hitachi Energy introduced its 4G TRO600 portfolio in 2021, followed by a 5G-enabled TRO620 router in early 2022 as the wireless communication solution specifically designed for the needs of critical applications in the smart distribution grid of the future. In 2023, the TRO600 series is further enhanced with NB-IoT and Cat-M offerings, allowing large scale rollouts for less critical applications.

With a specific focus on solving grid distribution needs, the TRO600 series has five primary relevant features:

  1. The TRO620 router provides a truly mission-critical grade communications capability by providing triple backhaul technology redundancy and huge capacity. By combining 5G with fiber and broadband mesh, distribution grid operators can use both public and private infrastructure for critical and high-capacity applications. The TRO620 can collect data from serial, ethernet and Wi-Fi clients.
  2. The TRO610 router integrates devices on a utility’s distribution grid into one seamless communications network. Many of these devices can last decades, and utilities shouldn’t have to rip and replace perfectly good equipment. For that reason, the TRO610 provides connectivity for a hybrid network of low-power cellular technologies or Bluetooth-based technologies. It can serve existing and future devices on the distribution grid as utilities seek to advance distribution automation efforts.
  3. With the TRO610, Hitachi Energy rightsized their devices for the communications functions the distribution grid needs to perform at mass scale. With hundreds of thousands of devices on the typical distribution grid that need to communicate, utilities can’t afford costly wireless technologies with excess features that deliver unneeded capabilities. Hitachi Energy’s solution enables machine-to-machine communications that are extremely powerful and data efficient at a lower cost.
  4. The TRO600 series routers are born industrial grade. The grid is a fierce environment where fires and sparks are not uncommon. Some vendors try to adapt technologies built for carpeted operating environments to be more rugged, but Hitachi Energy has roots as a high-voltage transmission grid solutions provider. Every device is designed for harsh environments so that they don’t cause a spark under any condition, don’t contribute to a problem from elsewhere and don’t stop working when damage does occur.
  5. For utilities that want flexibility, the TRO600 series has built-in, edge compute capability. This intelligence at the grid edge allows utilities to go beyond the limitations of vendor technology and program custom instructions that allow them to learn more, be more proactive and react faster to grid edge events.

With its new TRO610 and the entire TRO600 line, Hitachi Energy has a range of wireless communication solutions that can enable utilities to see and respond to the dynamic environment that is the electrical grid. 


Matt Vulpis

Matt Vulpis is a fresh out of college writer/journalist, already with a myriad of published articles across a variety of topics and industries. He is very passionate about writing, as well as sports, and television/film. While he enjoys writing articles pertaining to business tech, he wants to one day write a TV show as a head screenwriter. He has a bachelors in journalism with a minor in sports studies from Quinnipiac University.

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