Market for volt/VAR optimization set to transform


Jacob Pereira,
utilities infrastructure
analyst, IHS
Austin, TX, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — May 29, 2013 – Global shipments of volt/VAR optimization (VVO) control electronics used in smart electricity grids are forecast to double during the next five years, according to a new report from IMS Research.

Despite a slowdown in some areas of smart grid spending after the boom years of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), strong growth in VVO is anticipated in the coming years, propelling shipments and revenue alike. From barely over 50,000 units in 2013, VVO control shipments are expected to climb to well over 100,000 units by 2018.
“Following the years of government-funded smart grid projects during the ARRA period, utility companies now are beginning to look at new ways to leverage their AMI data and to defer the expense of major new-generation and infrastructure projects. For these firms, VVO is emerging as a strong choice,” said Jacob Pereira, utilities infrastructure analyst for IHS.
A number of challenges, including verification of positive results, still need to be addressed, however, before VVO becomes a truly common practice among utilities.
Alongside this is the potential for dedicated VVO software. Annual revenues from the sale of software exclusively used in VVO schemes will more than quadruple by 2018 from current levels, with revenue reaching around $0.5 billion in North America, IHS predicts. As a result, this is one area where major smart grid companies are paying very close attention.
Such attention already has been made evident in recent years via the acquisition of various grid software and analytics companies made by some of the major players in the field, along with the development and release of internally generated software by others.
As efficiency regulations become increasingly demanding and technologies continue to improve, the VVO market is expected to become one of the new rising stars of the burgeoning smart grid. To this end, utilities, regulators and suppliers will all be watching the field closely in the coming years.