Wired and Wireless Networks for the Energy Industry

September 14, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

The energy industry is getting a lot of attention these days with more people talking about how we can better harness and use energy. Here, we’ll look at the energy industry and how all sectors, including oil, gas and renewable sources, are using wired and wireless networks to connect their operations.

 

Oil and Gas

 

Offshore oil platforms are exposed to water, salt, vibration and extreme temperatures. Although in many cases the communications equipment used on these rigs are housed in protective enclosures some equipment must be located in exposed areas where they are subject to environmental extremes. This includes IP cameras used for surveillance of the platform, plus the cabling and converters that link back to the central control room on the rig. Wireless sensors and controllers are also located throughout the platform and are linked by outdoor antennas, amplifiers and access points used to operate the rig.

 

In petroleum refineries, wired and wireless sensors are used to monitor and control process applications and provide real-time data that can warn of system issues. Many valves and controllers are linked to a serial or IP network, as well as security and surveillance equipment that are critical to operations.

 

Natural gas pipelines depend on communications networks to monitor the safety and efficiency of the pipeline, which can span hundreds of miles over harsh terrain and in remote areas. These networks allow for real-time data to be sent to the control room that can detect leaks and issues with pressure and temperature. IP based surveillance systems along the pipeline also require network connectivity to provide added protection.

 

Renewable Energy

 

Solar energy networks use wired and wireless connectivity for long distance control and monitoring of solar panel arrays. For example, serial data cables connect to the power meters on the panel, theses power meters are then connected to the Ethernet network via a device server and antennas wirelessly connect the power meters back to the control center for monitoring and control.

 

Hydroelectric power has modernized operations by implementing automated systems in hydroelectric plants. Many of these systems use Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) to control valves, motor starters, sensors and flood gate control systems that are critical to operations. Other systems use wireless networks to monitor and control the plant. Surveillance and security systems are also important in these plants to not only monitor for intruders, but also to visually analyze the dam and plant and watch for structural breakdown.

 

Monitoring wind turbines also requires wired and wireless networks. An industrial Ethernet switch allows signals to be sent to the turbine that change its speed and angle. Fiber optic cables connect the control center to multiple turbines over long distances for complete control of the wind farm and antennas are used to connect the local control center to a main control network.  

 

For more details on how wired and wireless technology is powering the energy industry, and how L-com’s products are being used, download our energy industry overview.

 

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