smart transformers

Being on the leading edge of energy innovation & technology, the smart grid industry has established itself as a rather lucrative growth ground for potential stakeholders, according to Global Market Insights.

With smart grid technologies rapidly taking the much-hyped Internet of Things into millions of households, analysts deem this business sphere to bring a fourth significant revolution in the traditional energy utilization approach.

Growing investments and governmental initiatives toward grid digitization by installing smart meters and other advanced communication technologies have also been facilitating robust deployment trends in smart grid industry.

As a matter of fact, it wouldn’t be incorrect to say that the most visible evidence of the smart grid revolution comes in the form of smart meter rollouts. Estimates claim that in 2016, over 700 million smart meters were installed across the globe and more than half of these were in China.

In addition, figures reported by the European Union depict that globally, there are aims to replace over 80% of conventional and outdated electricity meters with smart meters by 2020.

However, it is prudent to mention that the smart grid implications delve deeper than just mere replacement of conventional and manually-read energy counters. New communication & wireless infrastructure is being created, encompassing a multitude of technologies and devices.

Installation of such advanced communication technologies that provide real-time monitoring and customer power load control will considerably stimulate the growth prospects of global smart grid market. Owing to their capabilities to communicate effectively and share vital and real-time data analysis, there is no doubt that smart grids have been gaining exceptional traction in maximizing the energy throughput.

Rising government focus on grid refurbishment activities to minimize power loss, overutilization, and load imbalance have resulted in a widespread adoption of smart grid technologies across myriad swaths of the industry.

Estimates claim that in 2016, the worldwide investments in digital electricity infrastructure to enhance reliability & security of grids surpassed $45 billion.

A recent instance of the extensive deployment trends in smart grid market is of PUC Services Inc., that has received approval for its proposed Community Smart Grid Project from the city council of Sault Ste Marie and Northeastern Ontario.

Reports reveal that the system, with two main components – distribution automation and voltage optimization would be the first of its kind that will be used in a city-wide application. The project is expected to enable better energy regulation in the house and even lengthen the life of the appliance. It has been reported that the project could regulate better energy supply with 4% efficiency and visible effects on the monthly bills.

How will smart grid industry cope with increasing security challenges?

Bringing two-way communication network in the utility industry, smart grids provide valuable, transparent, and sensitive data in real-time over an array of wireless networks.

Despite these advantages, the smart grids are likely to bring new sets of risks pertaining to cyber-attacks, access to private information, and data breach. In a nutshell, deployment of every device in this vast network creates new vulnerabilities that would give rise to potential threats and may turn out to be a strategic risk for countries.

An instance validating the authenticity of the same is of the popular cyber-attack against Ukraine’s power utilities in December 2016. The attack caused a major power outage that caused the industrial sectors, manufacturing plants, and homes to blackout for several hours.

The rising instances of similar incidents across the globe underline the need to protect the smart grid infrastructure from the most sophisticated forms of attacks. The US Department of Energy (DOE) in this regard has released a report to identify the gaps in smart grid assets and their capabilities, as large-scale attacks could significantly impact public safety & health and would result in economic costs of thousands of billions of dollars.

Smart grid industry players, in the backdrop of this scenario, are thriving to identify, neutralize, and analyze such threats and come up with solutions that slightly mitigate the challenges in this vertical. ECI’s LightSEC cyber security solution for smart grid, in this case is an apt example highlighting the increasing efforts taken by the smart grid market companies to fight against the sophisticated cyber-attacks.

The company claims its LightSEC solution to ensure that the utilities & strategic industries cope well with the security challenges and neutralize future threats.

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the success record of smart grid market to date is a mixed bag. However, the integration of smart grid technologies with solar systems and other renewable energy sources is certain to manifest lucrative commercialization potential for the smart grid industry.

A report by Global Market Insights, Inc., further sheds light on the growth prospects of smart grid market and anticipates the valuation to surpass USD 70 billion by 2024. It further remains to be seen how the industry players will tackle the security challenges and if the integration of smart grid & renewable energy will crack open a niche as an alternative energy source in the market.