The potential of smart grids is breathtaking. They are ambitious, spanning many miles, and many technologies, from the core of plants and reactors all the way into the homes and businesses they ultimately serve.
A 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 get anyone in the IT and telecom sector excited.
The year ahead, according to Bell, will be vital. He offers nine predictions, and it's quite a list. It essentially tells the story of an industry that is moving from the drawing board into the field. It includes the start of building of smart grids, the commercialization of products, the entry into the fray of major vendors, the emergence of distributed generation and load shaping as killer apps and other big events. The takeaway is that a lot will happen next year and all of those activities, including economic stimulus-related projects, have substantial dollar signs connected to them.
In the longer term, the market is promising as well. The Zpryme report predicts that in 2014, 89 percent of the $152.3 billion that is expected to be spent in the worldwide smart grid category actually will pay for "devices, hardware, software, and communications equipment" that will "build, link, monitor, manage and secure the smart grid." The press release and, presumably, the report upon which it is based, put into focus how extravagant the promise is for telecom and IT firms.
The process won't be without issues. For instance, Embedded reports that consumers in the U.S. already are grousing about what they claim are smart meters that are producing usage figures that are too high and the fact that they are paying for these devices up front through higher rates -- but only see a benefit down the road.
Complaining consumers come with the territory. The smart grid is potentially transformative to telecom and IT players, and 2010 is a key year in its development.