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Global Smart Infrastructure - The Smart Grid and M2M Movement

Global smart infrastructure market: Lull in smart grid developments during early 2013


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2014-01-27 00:13:03 - Global Smart Infrastructure - The Smart Grid and M2M Movement - a new market research report on companiesandmarkets.com

Governments and society are beginning to understand that energy savings and environment sustainability are important national issues that have an economic value as well. The focus on energy savings and sustainability linked to the rapid development of smart technologies is seeing the focus shift from smart meter rollouts – to the broader issues of smart grids. These developments should be considered in the broader context of the modernisation of electricity networks through the introduction of sensing, communications and information technology into the grid - also known as machine-to-machine (M2M).

The energy sector is one of the last to face the transformation forced upon them by technical, social and political developments. While the writing has been on the wall for some

 

 

time – initially driven by environmental and sustainability issues – it was not until consumer energy prices started to increase that the foundations of this industry were questioned, at which point the sector was thoroughly scrutinised by the consumers, media and the politicians. At that time it became clear that the industry had failed to keep up with social change and with changes in technology. It now faces significant challenges, both in relation to sustainability and to price increases.

Despite this increased understanding - in 2013 there seems to be a lull in smart grid developments after the early enthusiasm from 2007 to 2012. We now seem to have arrived at a period of regrouping and rethinking. Around the world some smart meter rollouts have been completed and some are still underway. However, the process has often been interrupted by consumer outcries and political intervention. The main reason for this has been the initial strategic mistake, made when electricity companies embarked on smart meter rollouts more or less as a stand-alone project. Most of these rollouts were based on facilitating time of use (ToU) pricing that would give the electricity companies the opportunity to increase prices at times of peak demand in order to better manage their network.

As long ago as 2006; we argued for a much more holistic approach to the looming energy crisis, the climate change issues and energy efficiency in general. We said that the industry should look at the concept of smart grids as an overall approach to these issues. The smart grid concept can indeed facilitate smart meters and ToU, but they could also assist customers in more efficient management of energy use within their homes; and they can also facilitate management of renewable energy, electric vehicles and so on. It has as much to do with industry transformation as with smart technologies. Today there is a much better understanding of the concept of the smart grid and few energy companies would now embark on isolated smart meter rollouts - although some still continue to do so.

The telcos are looking at the broader market of M2M as a key revenue earner for the future and we forecast that sensors and other devices installed within the energy infrastructures will constitute 40%-50% of the overall M2M market. So obviously this is a key target market and it is most likely that the electricity industry will become the largest user of M2M networks.

With a better understanding of the complexity involved in the transformation of the electricity industry; the words ´smart energy´ are becoming more prominent. we believe that the term ´smart grids´ is too narrow and that eventually ´smart energy´ will become the accepted terminology, especially once the communications developments in national broadband networks and mobile broadband start to converge with smart grid developments.

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