11 Comments

Summary:

The founder and CEO of Grid Net foresees numerous Smart Grid alliances involving major tech companies, the birth of “retail energy,” an easing of security debates, and much more.

Predicting the next 12 months is both unavoidable and irresistible at this time of year, so here are my best guesses for what’s in store for the Smart Grid in 2010:

1) We’ll Mark Significant “Phase Two” Milestones: The first phase of the smart grid was about defining it — and it took nearly a decade for utilities (and vendors) to articulate a vision and blueprint for such a complex undertaking. Now that we’re there, it’s time to start making this vision concrete. Phase Two is about building out the smart grid, and I believe that 2010 will be a milestone year for progress in this regard. One important measure of our progress will be the number of newly connected homes and businesses by the end of next year. (By the way, Phase Three is about living in the smart grid –- and still in the distant future.)

2) A Year of Interfaces: Commercially available products with real standards and real interfaces will drive a meaningful start to Phase Two of the smart grid. That means utilities have realized that the “last mile” network of the grid is as important as the rest of its networked devices.

3) A Year of the Majors: Now that the Smart Grid is a reality, the world’s leading technology vendors are plunging into the fray. The smart grid’s enormous, complex challenges will be met with ingenious solutions from leading vendors in virtually every technology vertical. Look for new alliances among major networking companies, major telecoms providers, major chip suppliers, major retail household appliance manufacturers and major enterprise software vendors (as well as some unknown startups).

4) The Security Debate Will Be Behind Us: Shocking as that may sound, it’s true. Sure, security generated a lot of buzz (and anxiety) in 2009, but government-grade, standards-based security has won the day. The only questions that remain center around how and where security gets implemented within the smart grid. Stay tuned for lots of debate about how best to implement standards-based security. Granularity -– across devices, data, transport and systems — will play a key role in determining successful (or failed) smart grid architectures.

5) Disruption Is Bound to Happen: Yes, there are government stimulus awards being handed out, as well as contracts signed by putative (and emerging) market leaders. But which vendors are likely to succeed, and why? My prediction (setting aside my bias as CEO of an emerging vendor, Grid Net): Disruption will result from a combination of the “usual suspects” (large, well-known technology vendors) plus some new surprises (see Prediction #3).

6) Smart Grid Networks Will Continue to Be Built: Until recently, there was lots of talk, speculation, blogging, Powerpoint presentations and whiteboard diagrams — and little else. So who is actually building out a viable, scalable, secure smart grid network? Actual smart grid deployments -– while small -– are now growing (in stature, as well as volume of connected devices). As the smart grid transitions to Phase Two, the vendors that demonstrate real technology (that’s really working in real-world deployments) will have a huge advantage and overwhelming mindshare with utilities.

7) Distributed Generation and Load Shaping Will Be the New “Killer Apps”: In the mid-1990s, everyone used to ask what the Internet’s “killer app” (i.e., the application that would propel massive adoption and growth) was. Seems rather quaint from our 2009 vantage point. Yet keen minds involved with the Smart Grid are now asking a similar question. But first the following queries about distributed generation and load shaping need to be answered:

  1. How can utilities safely incorporate and distribute alternative energy?
  2. How will utilities manage and distribute all that new energy going back into the Smart Grid? Has two-way energy management been a heretofore ignored issue?
  3. How does this transform utilities’ value-add? Do they become energy brokers/marketplaces, as well as energy providers? Will deregulated markets help or hinder this process?
  4. How will consumers’ interests be protected? Who really wins?
  5. If harnessed properly, can we end our reliance on fossil fuels?

8) The Birth of Retail Energy Will Be Upon Us: With connected smart meters, utilities are on the cusp of developing more powerful ways to connect and communicate online with consumers. Moreover, utilities will need to listen closely to consumers, and work hard to deliver what consumers want. That’s exciting, but daunting. Our prediction: The birth of ‘retail energy’ will happen first in deregulated markets, where there exist meaningful incentives for both utilities and consumers to communicate and transact online.

9) The “Grand Slam” –- Energy, Voice, Video and Data — Will Emerge: Back at the start of the century, telecommunications companies described the “triple play” (voice, video, data) opportunity –- a convergence of all media into the home, provided by a single vendor, and streamed onto a variety of consumer devices (phones, TVs, computers, and more). The Smart Grid is the first opportunity to enable the “quadruple play,” and I believe it will be big –- very big! Quadruple play is made possible by the use of standards-based, scalable smart grid architectures that connect and leverage feature-rich devices and functionality, along with high-bandwidth (and low cost) 4G networking. We are already seeing both vendors and utilities evaluate the benefits of this “quadruple play” approach as they build out their smart grids.

10) Did We Already Mention the “Grand Slam”?

Ray Bell is the founder and CEO of Grid Net, a provider of open, interoperable, policy-based network management software and 4G wireless communications products for the Smart Grid.

Image courtesy of martcatnoc’s photostream Flickr Creative Commons.

By Ray Bell

You're subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. [...] INDUSTRY & REGULATORY NEWS Top 10 Trends for the Smart Grid in 2010, Courtesy of Ray Bell Phase Two is about building out the smart grid, and I believe that 2010 will be a milestone year [...]

    Share
  2. [...] Top 10 Trends for the Smart Grid in 2010, Courtesy of Ray Bell Posted December 22, 2009 Filed under: Uncategorized | http://earth2tech.com/2009/12/22/top-10-trends-for-the-smart-grid-in-2010-courtesy-of-ray-bell/ [...]

    Share
  3. There is an another element to the Smart Grid that should be on reader’s radars: the G.hn standard and HomeGrid Forum, which recently announced that the ITU-T G.hn workgroup has agreed upon a number of key specifications that together form the baseline requirements for G.hn Smart Grid products.

    See:
    http://www.everywire.com/2009/12/itut-united-nations-ghn-networking-standard-fortifies-its-smart-grid-capabilities.html

    Share
  4. The smart grid should also encourage decentralized power plans that have renewable energy sources locally feeding the grid to homes and businesses. This way, a community invests in their own power generation and creates local jobs like in the wind industry for example. Wind technicians make good money and are fairly quick to train. to learn more about Wind Technician Training click the blue letter link.

    Share
  5. [...] couple of items during the past couple of weeks – a commentary today by Grid Net Founder and CEO Ray Bell at Earth2Tech and the release last week of Zpryme Research & Consulting research – should be enough to [...]

    Share
  6. Security maybe solved – but privacy issues still going to be a major issue!

    Share
  7. Because “disruption is bound to happen” (prediction #5), “the first phase of the smart grid” (prediction #1) may not have ended yet and thus it may not be either “The Year of the Mayors” (prediction #3).

    To let “The Birth of Retail Energy … Be Upon Us” (prediction #8), it is first necessary to shift away from the obsolete Investor Owned Utilities Architecture Framework and its exceeding complexity (due to a series of incremental extensions, such as the homogeneous smart grid of prediction #1) to the simplified, emergent and holistic Electricity Without Price Controls Architecture Framework (EWPC-AF).

    Under an EWPC-AF based energy policy, traditional utilities will no longer have a responsibility to serve electricity. Instead they will have a responsibility to deliver it, as they become the regulated heterogeneous Smart Grid transportation (integrated T&D) only utility. In the customer facing activities, utilities will be replaced by competitive Second Generation Retailers (2GRs). To serve customers, 2GRs will be the developers of the killer applications, greatly simplifying the queries of prediction #7. To learn about 2GRs, please hit the hyperlink http://bit.ly/8t94ZR

    To get even stronger arguments that show prediction #1 to be unwarranted, please go to the introductory EWPC post States that Implement a Heterogeneous Grid are Poised to be the Winners – after hitting the hyperlink http://bit.ly/6R5tDP

    I end that post with a quote that says:

    The Smart Grid architecting is a highly risky and costly one shot experiment which taxpayers will fund to extend the homogenous grid.

    “The Galvin Electricity Initiative, decries the overemphasis on metering” is about the fundamentals of the power industry, which are best met by an intermediate architecture, where customers are able to elect metering or not, under a heterogeneous solution.

    The winners, even without the stimulus funding, will be those who understand the differences between the two approaches. Innovative State regulators that promote the development of retail markets to enable complete and fully functional power environments will be in the winning team for their constituencies.

    Share
  8. [...] 22: earth2tech: Top 10 trends for the smart grid in 2010, courtesy of Ray Bell [...]

    Share

Comments have been disabled for this post