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Study finds smart grid development to head toward high-value network and communication gear

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Thursday, March 22, 2012

Up until recently, the majority of smart grid developments have primarily focused on highly visible projects directed at consumer benefits, such as the deployment of smart meters across the country. While these improvements have surged the market forward in recent years in both revenue and overall presence, such installations are expected to slow down in the coming years.

This deceleration will come as utilities complete large installation projects, the federal government reduces stimulus funding and utilities look to start projects that can deliver a quicker return on investment. However, as these companies back off implementing consumer-facing, high-volume but low-priced nodes such as smart meters, they are shifting toward lower unit volume, higher value networking equipment and communications gear, a new Pike Research report has found.

Such equipment is typically found in substation automation projects, distribution network upgrades and deployments that promise to provide utilities with measurable grid efficiency improvements. By leaning more toward this equipment, utilities will likely experience enhanced reliability and security, and help create an interoperable communications system across the entire grid.

Smart metering initiatives are expected to remain the main driver of the market for another two or three years, but investment in advanced metering infrastructure networks will likely begin to drop in the latter half of the decade. The slump in investment will come as utilities turn their attention toward high-return grid enhancement projects that will lead to reliability, security and efficiency improvements without having to spend time educating numerous and at times incredulous customers.

Pike Research's report looks into the current dynamics of the smart grid market and assess future opportunities for public and private, wired and wireless networks for a broad range of new smart grid technologies. The applications studied in the report include smart meters, distribution automation, substation automation and home area networks.

The report provides a detailed examination of the strongest market drivers, technological advancements and regulatory standards that will affect smart grid deployment through 2020.

As the report suggests, more utilities are expected to begin integrating substation automation and other highly advanced systems into existing electrical infrastructure. To help utilities with this challenge, SUBNET has developed several solutions and created software to help utility personnel manage the high volume of data created by intelligent systems. SUBNET can also ensure utilities comply with strict NERC CIP standards as they begin their smart grid endeavor. 

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