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Summary:

The idea of a “smart grid” involves a lot more players than its simple name suggests. That’s why Silver Spring Networks has launched its Technology Alliance Program, which includes an impressive partner list of big energy vets, tech giants and cleantech startups alike. Silver Spring’s open […]

The idea of a “smart grid” involves a lot more players than its simple name suggests. That’s why Silver Spring Networks has launched its Technology Alliance Program, which includes an impressive partner list of big energy vets, tech giants and cleantech startups alike. Silver Spring’s open network based on Internet Protocol will support a host of smart grid applications from the Alliance partners.

Just as the Internet flourished under an open system, smart grid technologies need an open set of standards to develop. “The key underpinning the smart grid is an open standards system, and in our case using an IP network,” John O’Farrell, Executive Vice President of Silver Spring Networks, told us. “This allows for an almost infinite choice of devices and applications.”

Helping supply these choices are the vendor partners in the program which currently fall into five categories:

  • Advanced Metering: GE Energy, Itron, Landis+Gyr, Sensus
  • Demand/Energy Management: Comverge, EnerNOC
  • Home Area Networks and Devices: Arch Rock, Carrier, Control4, Energate, Greenbox Technologies, Invensys, Radio Thermostat Company of America, Tendril
  • Networking: Cisco, Digi International
  • Software: eMeter, GridPoint, Itron, Oracle, OSIsoft

The idea is that, while Silver Spring will be the network vendor for a utility, technology partners will provide specific services or devices that work on Silver Spring’s network. “Rather than picking one solution and saying ‘take it or leave it,’ we’re all about choice,” O’Farrell explained.

This business model allows Silver Spring to leverage the best technology from a variety of third party vendors who often have multi-million R&D facilities or millions in venture capital. Updated: One potential project O’Farrell mentioned was a “smart city” one. Silver Spring is a Cisco technology developer partner and has been in talks with the networking giant about integrating Cisco municipal Wi-Fi deployment with Silver Spring’s smart grid infrastructure.

“We see a world where every significant energy consuming device will have an IP address – your refrigerator, your pool pump, your plug-in hybrid will definitely have an IP address,” O’Farrell said, confirming that Silver Spring has been talking to plug-in hybrid makers but he declined to name any companies.

Silver Spring is not alone in offering smart grid solutions to utilities. Integrated solution providers like Accenture and IBM can offer utilities a top-to-bottom solution. IBM Global Energy recently partnered with Australian utility Country Energy to deploy Big Blue’s Intelligent Utility Network, a similar open-standards network of communicative grid-attached devices.

The relationship utilities and their customers is rapidly changing. Between distributed generation, distributed storage, plug-in hybrids, smart metering, pre-paid options and demand response, utilities desperately need to make their grids not only smarter but nimbler too. An open network that allows third parties to develop devices or services will surely be a boon for cleantech startups.

Graphic courtesy of Silver Spring Networks.

  1. [...] Edit Staff, Thursday, May 1, 2008 at 11:45 AM PT Comments (0) The idea of a “smart grid” involves a lot more players than its simple name suggests. That’s why Silver Spring Networks has launched its Technology Alliance Program, which includes an impressive partner list of big energy vets, tech giants and cleantech startups alike. Silver Spring’s open network, which is based on Internet Protocol, will support a host of smart grid applications from the Alliance partners. Get the full story over at Earth2Tech. [...]

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  2. [...] GE, for that matter) are working with a startup similar to Grid Net, Silver Spring Networks, as part of their Technology Alliance Program. As one of the biggest, dumbest networks in the country – our electrical grid – starts to smarten [...]

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  3. [...] it to the energy management interface. In the Oklahoma trial a smart-grid network maintained by startup Silver Springs picks up the pricing every 15 minutes and sends it to Greenbox’s database, then to web [...]

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  4. [...] Spring is kind of like Cisco for the power grid, and through its Internet Protocol-based hardware and software the company is helping utilities [...]

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  5. [...] Spring within the next 18 months?  (This is not the first comparison between the two — see here.)  In my view, the infrastructure buildout necessary to really get the full AMI in place will [...]

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  6. Ahead of the game. http://www.ambientcorp.com

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  7. [...] Spring Networks: Billed as the Cisco of the smart grid, Silver Spring Networks, sells IP-based software and hardware to connect utilities and customers [...]

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  8. [...] even put them out of business — while virtually guaranteeing utility contracts for newer smart grid companies that support the computing standard Internet Protocol. At least that’s the claim made by [...]

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  9. [...] meters and certain in-grid technology; Silver Spring, which we’ve referred to as the “Cisco of smart grid,” will provide the core networking infrastructure, from the utility substation down to the [...]

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  10. [...] meters and certain in-grid technology; Silver Spring, which we’ve referred to as the “Cisco of smart grid,” will provide the core networking infrastructure, from the utility substation down to the [...]

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