A smart grid is an electrical grid, that is digitally enabled to procure & distribute information in order to improve the efficiency, reliability and sustainability of electrical devices. It involves the application of digital processing and communications to the power grid. A smart grid replaces analog mechanical meters with digital meters that record usage in real time. It improves the electronic control, metering, and monitoring. It uses the smart meter, which is an electrical meter that records consumption of electricity and communicates that information for monitoring and billing purposes. These meters communicate continuously so that monitoring can be done real time.
One major benefit of the smart grid is its ability to enhance a utility’s capacity to connect with and empower its customers. A robust customer engagement platform is at the heart of that enhanced relationship, providing a multitude of ways to educate, entice, and excite customers. Today, consumers can take advantage of direct savings by better monitoring and controlling their energy usage. This will enable service providers to capitalize on new revenue and cost-saving opportunities.
Benefits of Using Smart grid Technology -
The smart grid will make use of technologies that improve fault detection without the intervention of technicians. Thus there is more reliable supply of electricity, and reduced vulnerability to natural disasters or attack. Classic grids were designed for one-way flow of electricity. Smart grid technology enables distributed generation of energy flows & the systems can even control multiple energy flows from different sources. If a network generates more power than it is consuming, there can be a reverse flow, which can endanger safety and reliability. However, a smart grid is designed to minimize these situations. The overall effect is less redundancy in distribution lines, and greater utilization of energy flow, leading to lower power prices. Moreover customers can play an active role as both power consumer and power producer and can control their power consumption in a cost-optimized and environmentally responsible manner. When properly implemented, these technologies will increase efficiency in production, transport and consumption, improve reliability and economic operation, integrate renewable power into the grid, and increase economic efficiency through electricity markets and consumer participation.
Here is a list Of some of the Smart Grid Companies -
- ABB – is a global leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve their performance while lowering environmental impact. ABB operates in more than 100 countries. ABB is playing a fundamental role in the evolution of power systems. The most advanced smart grid technologies are in electrical transmission, and ABB is the market and technology leader in many of them – Flexible Alternating Current Transmission Systems (FACTS), High-voltage direct current (HVDC), Wide area monitoring systems (WAMS), Supervisory control and data acquisition systems (SCADA). ABB technologies, for smart distribution networks and buildings include smart meters, building automation systems, electric vehicle charging equipment, low-voltage solar inverters, high-efficiency distribution transformers; substation and feeder automation.
- Schneider Electric – One of the biggest electrical and energy equipment suppliers in the world, the company provides energy efficiency solutions to residential market, buildings, Industry & Infrastructure, and data centres. The company’s range of services and products is quite awesome and provides a holistic solution to its customers. The company’s visualizes Smart Grid as a more complex, interconnected, and interactive model as compared to the traditional electrical network which was simple and linear & hence users will require connectivity, simplicity, and security & a reliable and safe energy source that guarantees optimal operation of their installations and equipment. Schneider Electric has the foresight, the offers, and the willpower necessary to be a major player within this energy revolution.
- GE – is one of the biggest players in the Green Industry globally. It generated $18 billion in Ecomagination revenues in 2009 with $1.5 Billion in Investment.General Electric like other industrial conglomerates like Siemens,Areva and others are in fact low risk plays in the Green Investing sector.GE is strong across most of the Green Sectors today particularly in the area of Smart Grid and Energy Efficiency. GE entered the Smart Meter market & with its overarching scale it has quickly won a number of contracts like the one with FPL.
- Siemens – is the world’s biggest Green Company reporting 28 Billion Euros from its Environmental Portfolio. Siemens has a dominating presence in Renewable Energy (Leading Position in Offshore Wind), Lighting (OSRAM), Green Building Solutions, Energy Transmission and Distribution. It has a massive technological advantages in Energy and Industrial Sectors which are not easy to replicate. Smart-Grid-solutions from Siemens blaze the trail to the future of the energy business. There are innovative technologies and services in the fields of IT, data communication, energy automation, and rail electrification. Many Siemens products and solutions already master tasks that are of great importance for Smart Grids. In the field of Smart Grid technologies, Siemens customers mainly include power producers, grid operators, industrial companies, multi-utilities, cities, and rail operators.
- Itron – is the leading provider of energy and water resource management solutions for nearly 8,000 utilities around the world. It offers end-to-end solutions that include electricity, gas, water and thermal energy measurement and control technology; communications systems; software; and professional services. With more than 9,000 employees doing business in 130 countries, Itron empowers utilities to responsibly and efficiently manage energy and water resources. Itron holds the top spot for market share in North America and worldwide. Its products and services include SmartMeters and GridRouters that immediately IP-enable the grid, software solutions and a host of other professional services for utilities and their customers. Very recently the company acquired SmartSynch. Very soon after this, Itron has also closed a major smart grid deal with Entergy Corporation, parent company to a handful of utilities bordering the Gulf Coast.
- Silver Spring Networks – As a smart grid solutions company, it enables utilities to achieve operational efficiencies, reduce carbon emissions and empower their customers to monitor and manage their energy consumption. Its program enables consumers to download their detailed energy-usage information, enabling them to shift or lower their energy usage, save money, and reduce their environmental impact. Silver Spring Smart Energy Platform is the open, IP-based utility networking infrastructure that makes the smart grid possible. The company’s intelligent endpoints encompass electricity and gas meters equipped with network interfaces that link to both the utility and the home area network. These intelligent endpoints also include the bridges that relay communications from Distribution Automation (DA) devices.
- Tropos Networks – Based in Sunnyvale, California the company is positioning itself as a provider of the underlying network infrastructure for community-wide networks of smart meters. Tropos Networks develops technology and products used to create reliable, secure and scalable wireless IP broadband networks for the Smart Grid and other outdoor industrial applications. The company was founded in 2000 & has more than 850 customers in over 50 countries. Very recently in January 2012, – Tropos Networks announced the Tropos 1410 wireless mesh router and wireless bridge for field automation applications. The new product line extends advanced enterprise-class security to utility and industrial applications that monitor and control field automation devices. Tropos offers two product variants in the new line, the Tropos 1410 and the board-level Tropos 1410-B. The Tropos 1410-B is a module suitable for integration into Smart Grid devices such as smart transformers and intelligent electrical devices as well as into a wide range of industrial process controllers and SCADA devices.
- Tendril – delivers end-to-end consumer engagement products, applications and services powered by Tendril Connect – an open & secure medium that takes the complexities out of the Energy system and creates a communication channel between energy service providers and their customers. The company is based in Boulder, CO. It allows its customers to manage their energy usage and costs. As the foundation for the connected home, the Tendril Connect platform helps product and service providers to better address consumer needs, provide simple and flexible solutions. It has recently landed a multi year deal with with Houston-based Reliant, which will enable it to sell ‘ various devices into homes in the markets served by that giant utility.
- Nexgrid – Enables its customers and utilities to manage and monitor a smart grid or smart home network with the help of its products & services. These solutions utilize high speed, standards-based communications to provide the most reliable energy data communication networks. It thus enables energy management and utility operations in real time. Nexgrid is a manufacturer and integrator of self-managing devices that offer unrestricted monitoring and control of metering. Nexgrid’s customers include utility companies, consumers, and systems integrators. Nexgrid’s solutions deliver considerable amount of savings. Nexgrid products are designed to provide the most future proof smart grid network. This is accomplished through standards-based real-time two way communication for the management, monitoring, and control of the electric distribution grid.
- BPL Global Ltd.- The Pittsburgh-based company was founded in the year 2004. The company provides software solutions and services to electric utilities, enabling an intelligent grid to efficiently manage demand, integrate distributed energy resources, improve service reliability, and optimize cost and capital productivity. BPL Global works together with local utilities, internet service providers, equipment suppliers and financiers to create end-to-end solutions. It thus integrates the best options in software, communications, hardware and managed services. Since they are a part of the clean technology sector, their applications provide a coordinated, intelligent grid to deliver energy more efficiently for a cleaner & greener environment.
- Ecologic Analytics – Located in Bloomington, MN, is a leading provider of meter data management software solutions and decision management technologies. It transforms volumes of AMI (advanced metering infrastructure) data for electric, natural gas, and water utilities into valuable information that can be used by the entire organization to make quality business decisions. Meter Data Management System software that is used by the company permits a utility to separate the collection of meter data from its use.
- GridPoint, Inc.– Based in Arlington, VA, GridPoint was founded in 2003. offers an open software platform for distributed energy systems. It provides real time load management, integrated software for renewable energy & grid, software to manage the two-way power flow and energy storage integration. The company is known for demonstrating various Smart Grid technologies and wiring up the city of Boulder, to a smart grid.
TechNavios analysts forecast the Global Smart Grid market to grow at a CAGR of 20.5 % over the period 2011-2015. The Global Smart Grid market has also been witnessing rising demand for energy. However, lack of strong interoperability of standards could pose a challenge to the growth of this market. Visiongain calculates that global smart grid market in 2012 will total $33.91bn.
According to GBI Research, a leading business intelligence provider the cumulative number of units installed in – the American smart meters market is expected to grow from 18.34 million units in 2010 to 133.82 million units in 2020 at a CAGR of 22% & those in the in-home displays market is expected to grow from 142,000 units in 2010 to 20,367,073 units in 2020 at a CAGR of 64.3%. The US long term goal for smart grid technology is to reduce the energy demand by 20% by 2030. The cumulative number of smart meter units installed in Europe is expected to grow from 7.6 million units in 2010 to 105.99 million units in 2020 at a CAGR of 30.2%. The smart grid market in China is also witnessing emerging trends & innovative technology. The big energy companies have taken a plunge into the smart grid technology, which proves that it is very promising. Global companies like ABB, GE, Schneider & Siemens offer an array of products & services in this segment helping their customers to be more smart, making the industry more efficient & in turn creating a cleaner & greener environment.
To modernize the electric power grid, a major overhaul will be required to significantly move from the old & outdated model to the smart grid companies. This massive re-engineering project will create significant investment opportunities. Smart grid companies that have established themselves in key smart grid related industries will have an abundance of business opportunities. The government of America plans to distribute up to $11 billion to smart grid companies through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to help move the effort forward. There have been More Smart Grid M&A in the recent times. Cisco goes all out to win the Smart Grid Market through Alliance with No.1 Smart Meter Maker Itron and Alta Rock Acquisition. The market is also picking up though gradually in India.
Some of the major key players working on Smart Grid in India are Capgemini, HCL Infosystems,General electric, Power Grid, Larsen & Toubro, ABB, CISCO, IBM, Infosys, Siemens, Schneider electric etc. Smart Grid as a Clean Technology Industry is gaining traction in the West and countries like China, South Korea.