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Biggest smart grid trends of the new year

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Wednesday, January 09, 2013

With smart grid deployments rolling past their first phase, machine-to-machine (M2M) communications in the industry entered a new era in 2013, and several new trends are expected to crop up among utilities and smart grid technologies vendors.

According to The Energy Collective, the development of M2M communications has also spurred a number of conversations dealing with safety and privacy of grid data being sent through these communication platforms, which will likely have a major influence on 2013 trends. Already, funding from the Department of Energy has kickstarted a number of new technologies that will be instrumental in modernizing current grid infrastructure, while convergence of IT/OT functions will also influence the actions of utilities.

Among all these, a few policy trends will likely gain the most traction this year. While unforeseen technological breakthroughs are always possible, the biggest changes will likely be in new policies that will be developed to account for the technological innovations that arrived in the past few years.

Smart grid consultant Christine Herzog wrote that industry leaders will focus heavily on transactive energy, which she says would make clear how distributed energy resources would impact business models, technologies and services, markets and consumers.

"Organized as peer-based energy grids, this concept would revolutionize the electricity grid by enabling massive integration of renewable energy sources into the grid, and 'democratizing' the energy marketplace by allowing prosumers producing relatively small amounts of kilowatts or negawatts (via demand response) to participate in the market," she wrote. "The GridWise Architecture Council is already at work on the metaconcept."

Herzog also expects a handful of progressive-thinking regulators to look into ways to spur action among utilities to address distribution grid load controllers that would help introduce new sources of kilowatts or negawatts into the grid without compromising its reliability and resiliency.

"Managers of wholesale energy markets will continue to plan and experiment with programs that incorporate distribution grid participants into the bulk power grid," she wrote.  "PJM has made the most progress in expanding market participation, but CAISO is also actively engaged here."

According to a separate Energy Collective article, the IT/OT convergence is also bringing new players into the smart grid vendor environment.

With so many changes, ensuring interoperability among grid devices will be crucial. SUBNET's Unified Grid Intelligence philosophy ensures real-time integration of all intelligent systems controlled by a utility. 

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