It is often a custom at this time of year for many of us to pause in our busy schedules, and reflect back on the previous year’s events, trends, and accomplishments, as well as consider what beholds us in the next 12 months. With a perspective on current events and trends relative to the energy industry and its potential impacts to what we may see with Smart Grid progress in 2012, here are my predictions on where we should focus in the coming twelve months.
(1) Data analytics unlock new benefits – With the momentum of having completed some of the initial smart metering deployments, and further progress in seeking to complete the first true Smart Grid deployment, some utility managers will begin to consider additional value creation from the “data deluge.” Recent advancements have been made in modeling analytics and in redesigning business processes to accommodate operational data from metering and other T&D sensors that was not previously available in its current location, format, and frequency.
Prediction: New and improved data analytics applications and tools from industry suppliers will emerge and facilitate a transition to the next generation of Smart Grid value creation.
(2) Shift from HAN to BAN – The residential Home Area Networking (HAN) space is crowded and does not appear to be offering the growth expectations expected by new inventors and their investors. Witness the dual exits of both Google and Microsoft and the lack of significant market share by remaining players in this space. What remains as perhaps a more fertile segment is the commercial and institutional building market, or Building Area Networks (BAN). The industry has not yet made enough progress in technology advancement or standards development to leverage a stock of legacy building control systems, but this will change and the efforts of OpenADR will facilitate this progress.
Prediction: The 2012 year will bring an increased focus on the commercial sector with more demonstration projects and product offerings focused on BANs (especially as the value of demand response increases as a supply option – read on).
(3) Focus on high-response Demand Response options – In conjunction with the previous BAN discussion, Smart Grid and the integration of distributed renewables will further the need for more dynamic load shifting options, in order to match the increasingly dynamic nature of new power supply options. This will supplement existing direct load control and time-based pricing options with Dispatchable Demand Response (in response to control/dispatch signals from the market or system operator), plus the more complex consumer-controlled options of Virtual Power Plants (VPP) and consumer-optimized microgrids. However, this will introduce new complexities to the Smart Grid not yet widely known or anticipated. Look for more on this subject from KEMA in the near future.
Prediction: Increased focus on demonstrating DDR and VPP benefits, especially for ancillary markets, with an even greater need for analytical models to predict market stability and behavior.
It may be apparent by now that there is a commonality among these three market dimensions, and the relationship as each one emerges in greater importance. The role of Smart Grid will not only impact each of these dimensions, but its progress in industry will be impacted by how well each of these areas is being addressed in the forefront of new and emerging deployments. For instance, very few smart metering or Smart Grid program business cases can have a positive outcome without some degree of quantified demand response benefits, or at least having a high degree of confidence in achieving operational benefits. Further developments in these three areas can provide that greater certainty, perhaps improving the justification in future regulatory proceedings to fund Smart Grid deployment. What is your view?
By: Rob Wilhite