A recent Smart Energy Council survey of early smart grid adopters found that utilities are overcoming barriers in implementing their smart grid strategies because they believe the long term rewards outweigh the challenges that currently exist. The Smart Energy Council conducted the interviews between March and April because the organisation wanted to get a clearer understanding about how smart grid projects are beginning to deliver benefits.

There’s a lot of hype about the smart grid. It has been hailed as the most significant technology revolution since the internet. Here are just some of the claims: 

  • It will attract hundreds of billions of dollars of investment 
  • It is capable of helping the planet meet its CO2 emission targets by displacing trillions of tons of carbon through improved efficiency 
  • It will change the way utilities and citizens think about energy use and interact 
  • It will pave the way for a green revolution by enabling renewable energy to safely and smoothly connect to the grid from thousands of different sources as well as utility-scale developments 
  • It will facilitate the whole-scale adoption of plug-in-hybridvehicles by finally enabling a grid-wide charging solution.

The survey also found that despite much optimism, a feeling of trepidation still persists about wide-scale smart grid adoption – a phenomenon that occurs in nearly every disruptive technology. Respondents were clear in the causation: adoption rates for smart grid technologies have been slower than many proponents predicted because of a lack of common standards. Iain Pitt of the Smart Energy Council pointed to a reluctance of utilities to suffer from “vendor lock-in” as an early adopter. “History is littered with companies that have had market leading proprietary technologies but failed to achieve widespread adoption, due to a failure to agree a path forward based on a common interest that would include true interoperability as a necessity.”

As utilities turn their attention to the smart grid, they find “an industry that has so far failed to support and develop technology worldwide, based on common standards,” Pitt said. The telecoms industry has shown us that utilities do not embrace non standardised technologies and when they do – put simply, they are prone to fail.

“Utilities tell us they are behind the curve,” Pitt said. The development of common standards will be momentous, but verification is required before this can happen.

This is the driving force of a new industry initiative, the Smart Energy Council, which has been launched with a commitment to international collaboration. The strategic thrust of the organisation is to help the world’s utilities become “smarter” utilities – a shift that demands cooperation to remove the barriers that prevent its adoption.

The Smart Energy Council aims to create a world leading business network for utility and energy professionals that supports industry efforts to gain support for widely adopted standards and aims to deliver worldwide awareness through informed commentary and cutting edge analysis at an exclusive series of global events focusing on the smart grid.

Central to its concerns is a commitment to promote a vibrant and dynamic global community of professionals who can readily share knowledge and thought leadership and reach collaborative agreements to help drive the evolution of the smart grid.

Is your company a key player in your region’s smart grid story? Are you a utility that is contributing to the smart energy landscape? If so, there is a place for you on the Smart Energy Council, and a seat for you at our events.

The Smart Energy Council is also establishing a Committee comprised of senior executives in the power industry, including utilities and service providers, and nominations are invited.