Boulder, Colo., March 19, 2012 — The smart grid promises a dramatic transformation of the world's electricity infrastructure, with a long list of goals essential to maximizing efficiency and diversifying our future energy supplies.
While it is occurring more gradually than some would like, smart grid deployment has been taking place at a relatively rapid pace for the electric utility industry.
Existing players are transforming, new (and old) players are entering (and leaving) the market, and consumers are awakening to a new set of possibilities. Some 200 million smart meters have been deployed worldwide, 40 million of them in North America.
According to a new white paper from Pike Research, the year 2012 represents a turning point for the sector, where the smart grid must prove its value, both in operational and financial terms, to the full range of stakeholders.
In the next phase of smart grid development and deployment, the question is: What will we do with the massive infrastructure that has been deployed and all the data it will generate?
In particular, the cleantech market intelligence firm anticipates that 2012 will be the year in which the focus of the expanding smart grid sector shifts from infrastructure deployment to applications.
"Utilities need to prove to both end-use customers and regulators that the adoption of smart grid technologies, such as smart meters, has been worthwhile in either reducing costs or boosting energy efficiency," says Pike Research vice president Bob Gohn.
"Relatively simple applications such as prepaid metering services should be straightforward, while others, like the integration of distribution automation (DA) with advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), and the adoption of microgrids, are more ambitious. Major challenges remain, as continuing consumer pushback against smart meters is likely to extend to dynamic pricing program rollouts and home area networking, threatening some of the key principles of smart grid investments," Gohn said.
Pike Research's smart grid industry predictions include the following:
* Smart meters will shift from deployment to applications
* Dynamic pricing debates will escalate
* "Architecture" will be the new buzzword
* Cyber security failures will become almost inevitable
* Consumer backlash against smart meters will not go away
* Microgrids will move from curiosity to reality
* The freeze on home area networks will begin to thaw – just a little
* Asia Pacific smart grid adoption will accelerate even faster