During the month of April, Greenbang will be focusing its research on a topic that’s critical to the success of a smarter energy infrastructure:...

During the month of April, Greenbang will be focusing its research on a topic that’s critical to the success of a smarter energy infrastructure: smart-grid analytics.

Among the reports scheduled for release this month are a Greenbang Smart Matrix on key players in the smart-grid analytics space, a strategy guide, a survey summary and a publication outlining market opportunities in smart-grid analytics.

So why are smart-grid analytics so important? Let’s look at the implications of a more responsive, more automated and more intelligent electricity grid:

A smarter grid means more data … huge volumes of it being generated by sensors across the system, from coal-fired power and nuclear plants to end users in homes and businesses. In the UK alone, for example, the government has announced plans to install 53 million smart meters by 2019. Each one of those meters will produce information on total electricity consumption, usage patterns and energy loads for various household or commercial devices. Making sense of that information – and putting it to use for improved efficiency – means we’ll need analytical tools that can handle such large amounts of data. And we’ll need those tools in just a few short years.

In essence, analytics tools can take the 1s and 0s of smart-grid data and turn them into usable, meaningful graphics, charts and reports. The need for such meaningful intelligence means new market opportunities for companies that can provide these types of analytics tools to utilities and other organisations.

IT companies are the logical candidates to provide such tools, and many of the top firms are already coming out with offerings in this area. For the moment, though, it’s still early in the game, with the actual amount of smart-grid data to be crunched remaining small compared to what is ultimately possible. That leaves us in a chicken-and-egg situation: Will companies build the analytics tools in anticipation of the volumes of data yet to come, or will the accelerating emergence of smart-grid data bring the necessary tools into play?

Most likely, it will be a combination of the two, with companies bringing analytics tools to market before the data arrives, and then adapting as the scope of the data loads and demands  develops.

A competitive smart-grid analytics market will drive innovation and ensure optimisation of the grid. If one company gains dominance too early, this could actually slow development of analytics tools with the greatest benefits for users.

Although it’s a relatively new market, data analytics is an important one, with rapidly increasing amounts of data covering everything from supermarket shopping baskets to mobile phones bringing new market opportunities. Translating the benefits already seen in these areas to the smart grid will pose both challenges and opportunities for would-be market leaders.

We know that more advanced and intelligent energy grids will produce vastly more data about both generation and consumption. What remains to be seen is which solutions, which companies can take that data and make it worthwhile … to improve efficiencies and enable better decision-making. It’s those sorts of  questions that Greenbang intends to examine in the month ahead.


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