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Smart grid node shipments to climb to 103 million by 2020

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Friday, March 23, 2012

Across the country, utilities are implementing more smart grid devices into existing power infrastructure to add intelligence to the grid and modernize an aging system. According to a new report from Pike Research, shipments of such devices are expected to surge to 103 million in 2020, from a little more than 58 million in 2011.

Shipments of smart grid equipment will drive revenues higher, peaking at about $2.96 billion in 2014, and returning to just below $2.6 billion per year after 2020.

"The sheer size and scope of smart grid communications efforts has created some gold rush characteristics in the market, as traditional communications and IT companies view the electric utility industry as a potentially high-growth adjacent market," vice president Bob Gohn stated. "While overall, the market is still robust, with a good deal of diversity and opportunity, investment in advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) networks will be reduced starting in the second half of the decade" as utilities look toward other areas of the sector.

Among the leading utilities that are deploying smart grid technologies, California's Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&C) has developed advanced metering systems such as the Green Button initiative.

According to Intelligent Utility, Kevin Dasso, senior director of technology and information strategy at PG&E, Green Button allowed the utility to become one of the earliest utilities to deploy the open automated data exchange (Open ADE) standard. Through the program, the company was able to leverage smart grid technologies to benefit both consumers and the utility.

The utility has also started its Cornerstone Improvement Program, which aims to increase grid flexibility, keep outage frequency and duration to a minimum and establish a foundation for the smart grid. In large cities, the project entails installing intelligent substations, equipment and feeders, and invests in automation in several components of the power grid.

In 2012, the Cornerstone project will move into the construction phase, after a year of testing and verification in 2011. This year will see the installation of automation technologies, with 150 circuits set to be automated by the end of 2012.

"The plan allows us to think about what's important about smart grid," Dasso said. "It allows us to focus our efforts and communicate."

SUBNET works with utilities as they begin substation automation projects to ensure NERC CIP compliance and installation efficiency.

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