Looking back at 2012, it would seem that this was the year the smart grid industry really came into its own. While many of the companies involved in the industry have been developing smart grid technologies going back decades, it was newer smart grid technologies that really managed to capture investor and corporate interest.
This has led to a pretty apparent boom-bust pattern in the smart grid industry in terms of both investment and government support; the billions of dollars of government stimulus injected into the industry is gone, while venture capital investment has leveled off in the face of the typically slow moving returns seen from the utility sector.
Still, though, 2012 has been a remarkable year of innovation throughout the entire tech industry and the smart grid sector is no exception. Technologies have cropped up over the past year that connect utilities to their customers by way of energy efficiency and demand response programs, in addition to distribution automation and restoration projects.
This influx of new tech being implemented on grids has also led to many companies jumping in to enable interoperability and integration.
And that will be the key going forward, too: integration. At the same time, an Oracle survey from earlier this year of utility executives uncovered that nearly half of those surveyed had deployed smart meters but hadn't gotten to implementing a meter data management (MDM) system to handle the resulting data.
That said, the fact is that new smart grid technologies take time and money to integrate into each utility's way of doing things.
Meanwhile, once utilities have implemented a way to handle smart meter data, there is then the challenge of making sense of it. Put simply, smart meters up the usual monthly collection of meter data to hourly. As such, the U.S. market for smart grid data analytics is expected to skyrocket from $322.5 million this year to $1.4 billion in 2020.
As exciting as 2012 has been for the smart grid industry, it seems as though 2013 and onward is going to get even better, as technologies like distribution automation and home area network begin to pick up even more speed.
Furthermore, organizations like Pecan Street Incorporated continue to strive for further advancement in the smart grid industry.
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