Smart grids – building a strategic technology roadmap


Washington, DC, U.S.A — (METERING.COM) — September 10, 2008 – While no two utilities are the same, the development of a utility’s smart grid roadmap can be completed in four broad steps, according to a new report from the Utilities Telecom Council (UTC).

These steps are:

  • Preparation
  • Definition of the internal and external drivers that will affect the utility’s vision and smart grid strategic technology roadmap
  • Creation of the vision (e.g. based on 5-year increments over a period of 15 years)
  • Creation of the smart grid strategic technology roadmap that supports the vision.

Utilities are also encouraged to develop a smart grid working committee tasked with developing the smart grid vision, which should be based on a clear understanding of the business objectives and priorities. Further, the vision should be specific enough so that the working group responsible for developing the strategic technology roadmap can work out the detailed technological, financial, regulatory, and legal aspects of the vision.

The report, entitled “Smart Grids: Building a Strategic Technology Roadmap”, is aimed at providing a methodological framework for the development of a smart grid vision and technology roadmap.

The report notes that according to the DOE Grid 2030 report, the U.S. will require investment of at least $450 billion in electric infrastructure to meet load growth, a significant portion of which is likely to be invested in advanced communications and information technologies to integrate end-user networks with a combination of private utility and commercial networks that will bring a host of new data driven capabilities for utility decision making and control. This will affect all utilities in the supply chain as well as end users. In order to manage such a large investment careful planning will be required. For a particular utility, the planning process will start with the creation of a vision and a strategic technology roadmap.

The report comments that the uncertainties and risks to utilities and society are significant during this implementation process, and utilities need long term technology planning that accounts for their individual circumstances, is built on sound business case evaluation, and considers all stakeholders involved to ensure that investments made today are not “stranded” in the future.

Some of the risks and uncertainties include a lack of regulatory guidelines and a lack of technology standards. Furthermore the life cycle time of currently available technologies is of concern, with the expectation that technologies for smart grid implementations will become obsolete much faster than technologies used for power system components. For example, it is unlikely that smart meters and thermostats will last for decades as smart grid applications will evolve over time requiring technologies that are not supported by current implementations.