There’s at least one good outcome of the current power grid being inefficient, wasteful and unintelligent: The market opportunity for a smarter power grid will create a $65 billion industry by 2013, according to a new report out from Lux Research.
Lux’s definition of the “power web” market includes smart-metering hardware and software, networking technologies, energy storage (including batteries for both the grid and electric vehicles), flywheels and supercapacitors, and alternative grid-connected power sources, including fuel cells; the definition excludes renewable generation systems like solar, wind and tidal power, or the electric vehicles themselves.
As utilities in the U.S. are set to add nearly 40 gigawatts of clean energy generation by 2030, spurred by state mandates, the grid will need an upgrade to withstand the change. A recent report from the North American Electric Reliability (NERC) said that a lack of investment in the proper transmission infrastructure to accompany the increase of green power will result in an unreliable power grid. The Brattle Group predicts that to build out the power grid, including transmission lines, will need a $2 trillion investment, and Al Gore is calling for an investment of $400 billion over 10 years to build a national smart grid.
The bulk of the $65 billion market identified by Lux will be made up of energy storage and alternative grid power. We’re thinking batteries, particularly the ones found in electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, will consist of a significant part of that estimate (Lux is getting back to us on that). In comparison, the market for smart-metering hardware and software and for networking technologies — which commonly are thought of as “smart grid technology” — is relatively small; Lux predicts it will grow to $4.7 billion in 2013, up from $2.7 billion this year.