The Next 10 Years: Give it up for integrated systems


Editor's note: SGN is celebrating its 10th year with a look ahead. This is the ninth installment of our The Next 10 Years series where industry insiders offer insights on smart grid issues and trends they expect to see in the coming decade. (The previous segments are linked at the end of today's story.) As always, we welcome your comments; please use the Talk Back form at the bottom of the page.



By Liz Enbysk

SGN Managing Editor


The words and phrases they use may differ slightly, but our smart grid industry insiders see a decade of integration at many levels ahead of us. Read why they say that and it makes a lot of sense.


For instance Ron Sege, Echelon CEO, talks about "the inefficient notion of using a dedicated system for meter reading, another for outage detection and management, and another for distribution optimization just does not make sense from a return-on-investment standpoint."


Sege expects a multi-platform approach to emerge. It's one he says will rely on the development of a non-technology trend which is, as he puts it, "The de-siloization of departments in utilities, cities and enterprises. Organizations will become flat and horizontal, not vertical and siloed," he says. "This means that meter shops will work with T&D shops, street lighting departments will work with signal light people, and so on."


Clinton Davis, the Ventyx Director of Product Strategy, Smart Grid, sees a similar trend in the distribution management arena. "Utilities," he says, "are not interested in simply installing a standalone distribution management system; they're in the business of grid management."


"Utilities will seek a comprehensive, integrated solution that can manage the full smart grid lifecycle," Davis believes, "from developing and managing demand response programs, to automating distribution and outage management with advanced technologies."

Smart Grid 2.0

Sensus CEO and President Peter Mainz says emergence of Smart Grid 2.0 in the next decade will deliver further integration of distribution network management with smart metering to enable a truly intelligent electrical smart grid. But he also believes the technology that enabled the smart electric grid will be leveraged to deliver smart water networks "that utilize the full range of 'smart' technologies to enable utilities and their customers to better manage this increasingly scarce and vital resource."

Adds Mainz: This will encompass not only smart meters for billing and conservation, but also smart devices for sensing and control of the water distribution network."

Rob Wilhite, DNV KEMA Global Director of Management and Operations Consulting, takes the integration concept even further.

"Smart cities will drive the development of sustainable (local) energy systems and require further integration of utilities and infrastructures in modern cities," he says, adding that these smart cities will include much more than energy - for example waste treatment, green parks and all kinds of public facilities.

More from SGN's The Next 10 Years series...

Why hurdles to DG, DR and storage will prove worth jumping

The Next 10 Years according to Cisco CEO John Chambers

Getting standards down so we can move on to the good stuff

What we can (and can't) expect from regulators and policymakers

Maybe customer engagement isn't so dang important

Empowered "digital natives" become a force to reckon with

Silver Spring exec insists we need to go faster

Where we've come from (and how it shapes where we'll go next)