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Smart grid spending could hit $65 billion a year by 2017

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Tuesday, May 08, 2012

A new report conducted by ABI Research found that annual global spending on smart grid technologies, which include both meter installations and improvements to transmission and distribution equipment, will hit $65 billion by 2017.

With the bulk of today's electric infrastructure outdated or aging at a rapid pace, utilities are having to work with highly inefficient systems that keep them from reliably managing the ever-growing electric loads around the world. But as awareness of climate change and its relationship to renewable resources grows and more utilities seek out ways to improve operational efficiencies, many are turning to smart grid installation projects.

The work that is being done to introduce intelligence into existing electric infrastructure is most recognizable in smart meter deployments, however these programs are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg that extends deep into the smart grid system.

"A number of major utilities throughout the world are either actively engaged in or planning the enormous task of connecting grid assets such as substations, capacitor banks, and transformers to their head-end systems for improved monitoring, control, and automation," said Craig Foster, senior analyst of home automation for ABI research. "This involves the installation of a plethora of sensors, controls, and other grid optimization solutions such as synchrophasors and advanced reclosers."

As deployment of this equipment expands, investments in transmission and distribution infrastructure are expected to make up the better part of all smart grid investments until 2017. By this time, $278 billion will have been spent cumulatively on T&D infrastructure, compared to the $48 billion that will have been spent on smart meter installations. The report stated that these figures suggest smart grid innovations will extend well beyond advanced metering infrastructure.

The wide array of intelligent electronic devices that will be used by utilities across the country will provide previously unseen amounts of data that must be collected, managed and analyzed. A number of reports have concluded that the most daunting step industry players will need to take is to ensure interoperability between these disparate devices.

SUBNET has developed software and products that provide utilities with innovative interoperability solutions that forge the most advanced substation automation technologies with modern day networking and IT systems. The products enable utilities to create more intelligent substations, and in turn a smarter electric grid that can be reliably and safely managed. 

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