This just in from our friends at ARC. While Wurldtech may be getting its ducks in a row to lead on cybersecurity for the smart grid, that could be an overnight success several years in the making.
According to ARC, in a release dated today:
The North American Market for Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) has hit some bumps in the road, in spite of the best efforts of utilities, suppliers, government, and regulators. While the North America market for Advanced Metering Infrastructure and Smart Grid is expected to have a double-digit compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) during the next five years, a recent industry study from ARC Advisory group forecasts that 2009 and 2010 will see only a limited portion of that growth.
The ARC study cites several factors still inhibiting rapid growth of the AMI and Smart Grid market. Among these are immature standards for meter communications and Home Area Networks (HANs), fragmented regulatory authority, and the long project sales and implementation schedules of electric utilities. “AMI is a foundational piece of the future smart grid,” according to Senior Analyst Harry Forbes, one of the author’s of ARC’s “Advanced Metering Infrastructure and Smart Grid Outlook for North America” (www.arcweb.com/res/ami). “Yet the existing standards for meter communication are very immature compared with Internet technologies, as indicated by the lack of multi-vendor device interoperability. Also, it has been a challenge to scale some of these new HAN technologies to installations of only 1000-2000 endpoints, let alone several million. Utilities are reticent to vastly scale up their AMI installations at huge expense given the present level of technology risk and the rate of technology development.”
Adding Intelligence to the Electric Utility
While AMI represents much of the current spending and effort toward the future Smart Grid, AMI is only one aspect of the new emerging model of electric utility service. The Smart Grid will augment the current electric utility infrastructure with vastly greater communications and transactional capabilities. Efforts to promote distributed generation, demand response, and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) will require an entirely different distribution model than the traditional 1-way flow of electric power from generating plant to consumer that has dominated the electric utility industry since its creation in the 19th century.
This fundamental change depends on reliable two-way communications and millions of on-line transactions between energy suppliers and consumers. The vision is to support vast numbers of small energy suppliers in addition to the relatively few large generating plants that supply electric power today. These new suppliers would also be intermittent, driving a need for both on-line energy transactions and for improved energy storage. Indeed one of the potential values of PHEVs is as a reservoir of stored energy that could be used to improve grid stability and to flatten load demand peaks.
Yet the need for this vastly expanded communications capability is being imposed on an electric distribution infrastructure that has had little or no such communications, and is now regarded as a critical infrastructure that must remain secure from external threats including cyber-attack. The need to incorporate far greater and secure, real-time communications is a daunting challenge for utilities and suppliers alike, but one that is being addressed now by utilities as they plan their transition to a future grid.