A note from the editor of Metering & Smart Energy International, Claire Volkwyn

Claire Volkwyn editor of Metering & Smart Energy InternationalI have recently had the opportunity to travel to some of the countries which are leading smart grid and smart metering innovation.

I had the pleasure of spending time in the United States where I got to visit some of the companies making up the Raleigh Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster, and then spend some time on the opposite side of the country in Silicon Valley, meeting with some of the companies that are household names in smart energy.

Additionally, I had the pleasure of joining some of my colleagues at the European Utility Week conference, which took place in Amsterdam.

Utility needs drive solutions

It was brought home to me again that despite the similarities to the challenges faced by utilities globally, it is the objective and specific need behind the technology that drives innovation.

So while in the US the drive has been around getting more clarity on consumption and proactive outage management (among other things) the drivers in Europe are slightly different, and in some parts – Germany particularly – it is less about efficiency or proactive management, and more about integrating renewable energy.

Innovation takes many forms – from the ability to manage your thermostat or building’s energy usage – to equipment that enables a utility to retrofit older mechanical meters and turn them into fully functional smart meters. From games which encourage consumers to be more conscious about their energy usage, to algorithms which can analyse energy consumption, and even predict when equipment may fail.

I had the opportunity to meet with a start up in Silicon Valley that is using video connectivity to enable technicians to get expert advice in real time – regardless of their location, or that of the expert. The truly amazing thing is that your expert could be based in Hawaii on vacation, but if he has an Internet connection, he can be addressing a problem in the furthest reaches of Alaska, or downtown New York.

The Big Question

Based on a number of conversations I had during my travels, I wanted to pose a question to the greater Metering & Smart Energy International readers: Is the term ‘smart grid’ past its sell-by date? And if so, what term or buzz word will replace it?

We welcome your comments on this question and on the items within the publication. Write to me at editor@smart-energy.com

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