Wireless sensor networks boost utility market


San Diego, CA, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — November 8, 2007 – Driven by new regulation and the global energy crisis, in the United States advanced metering with embedded wireless sensor networks has grown from a few thousand units in 2004 to 1.5 million smart meters this year, according to a new survey by ON World.

The survey, which involved nearly 100 utilities, found that 73 percent are current AMR users or have pilots underway. Of these 44 percent use mobile radio and 48 percent use a fixed wireless networking technology for at least part of their AMR/AMI systems. Moreover nearly half of the electric utilities have demand response programs planned or pilots underway.

To address the dwindling energy capacity and growing demand, utilities are working with vendors to create energy management solutions to connect smart meters with in-home control devices. Leading US utilities such as SCE, Centerpoint, TXU and SDG&E are demanding vendor interoperability and have selected the ZigBee standard for their solutions.

Utilities are working together with vendors such as Itron, Cellnet+Hunt, Comverge and Tendril Networks to create a ZigBee AMI profile that will leverage several years of development on the recently completed ZigBee Home Automation Profile. The ZigBee AMI profile is expected to be completed in early 2008.

ON World projects that the global wireless sensor networking smart meter and demand response market will be worth $1.6 billion in 2011.

This in turn will stimulate the Home Area Network (HAN) market and the AMI HAN will enable innovative energy saving solutions and present the most opportunity for new entrants. Based on forecasts for two-way AMI enabled electric meters and the average number of HAN devices to be deployed per household, in 2012 there will be a total possible market of 276 million HAN devices worldwide.

These devices include smart outlets and programmable thermostats that are wirelessly networked to the utility through the resident’s smart meter and automatically adjust energy use to give the consumer preferred pricing.

“While most of the revenues at this time are for smart meters, HAN applications and devices that interoperate with these advanced meters have enormous developer potential,” says Mareca Hatler, ON World’s director of research.