Semicondutor industry can assist in building a smart grid


George Scalise,
President, SIA
The $120 billion semiconductor industry is looking to the smart grid as a new growth opportunity.

Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) president George Scalise  stated "Over the past decades and into the next, semiconductors can revolutionize how we generate, distribute and consume energy, transforming the economy much as semiconductors enabled the information economy."  He predicted that semiconductors will be a key technology that "will enable us to harness alternative energy sources more effectively, distribute it more efficiently and intelligently and consume it in the most efficient manner."

At its core, smart grid transformation represents the digitization of one of the last major analog-based industries," said Bernard Meyerson, IBM Fellow and CTO of IBM Systems & Technology Group. "Power grids use sensors, smart meters, digital controls and analytic tools to automatically monitor and control two-way energy flow."

Citing various studies, Texas Instruments Fellow Dave Freeman said some 50 million analog meters in the U.S. are likely to be replaced by 2010 at a cost of about $18 billion. Worldwide, only 6 percent of electricity, 8 percent of gas and 4 percent of water meters are now automated.

Freeman said that using "smart" solutions would enable home thermostats and large appliances to communicate wirelessly or over existing power lines to help consumers conserve energy. He pointed to recent U.S. policies and incentives for developing a smart grid. "Because utilities are regulated at the state level, adoption has not been uniform," said Freeman. "So far utility commissions in California, Colorado and Texas have been the most proactive."

The SIA is working to help enable national standards," said Daryl Hatano, SIA’s vice president for public policy.