Smart grid research: Get the latest on energy consumers, microgrids, SCADA security (and more)


By Liz Enbysk

SGN Managing Editor


New research reports provide some interesting insights for smart grid stakeholders. Scroll down for summaries and click to page 2 for the full press releases.


Can 10,000 consumers be wrong?

The latest installment of Accenture's multi-year New Energy Consumer research program, Actionable Insights for the New Energy Consumer, shows real growth opportunities for those companies that provide greater choice, Web-based connection options and loyalty programs to their customers. A survey of more than 10,000 consumers in 19 countries revealed some interesting findings:


·         More than 50% of consumers worldwide say they prefer to use the Internet for the majority of interactions with energy providers

·         Consumers aged 18 to 34 interact with their providers 11 minutes a year, compared to an average of nine minutes for consumers aged 35+

·         One-fifth of consumers in emerging economies currently use social media to discuss energy-related issues with other consumers or groups

·         53% of consumers are willing to pay a premium for electricity from renewable energy sources


The research also identifies actions energy executives can take to strengthen their businesses.


"Successful providers will be those that create targeted offering and value propositions aligned with energy consumer needs,” said Greg Guthridge, managing director, Accenture Retail and Business Services for Utilities. "From commoditized energy with limited service, to premium product and service bundles, there is broad interest in various product and service offerings that will require new capabilities and innovative business models.” (Read more on page 2 >>)

Scroll down to find the press release you're interested in ...


Customers Increasingly Favor Web-based Interactions With Their Energy Provider, Accenture Research Shows


Survey of more than 10,000 consumers worldwide provides insights on the actions energy providers can take to improve customer choice, interaction and loyalty


San Francisco; April 4, 2012 - As energy providers continue to face global economic uncertainty and the need to focus on operational imperatives such as cost-effectiveness, revenue management, and customer satisfaction, new Accenture (NYSE: ACN) research shows that there are real growth opportunities for those companies that provide greater choice, Web-based connection options and loyalty programs to their customers.


The third installment in Accenture’s multi-year New Energy Consumer research program, Actionable Insights for the New Energy Consumer, explores how consumers want to interact with their energy providers, the products and services they value, and key drivers of purchasing and loyalty behavior. It also identifies a number of actions energy executives can take to strengthen their businesses. 


"Successful providers will be those that create targeted offering and value propositions aligned with energy consumer needs,” said Greg Guthridge, managing director, Accenture Retail and Business Services for Utilities. "From commoditized energy with limited service, to premium product and service bundles, there is broad interest in various product and service offerings that will require new capabilities and innovative business models.”


For example, over half of consumers say they are interested in additional products and services from their electricity provider. Fifty-seven percent of respondents said that they would be interested in products and materials that could help them lower energy consumption by making small home improvements; the same percentage said they are interested in purchasing home energy-generation products such as solar or geothermal installations.


"This presents an opportunity for energy providers and other market entrants to create bundled propositions that address a broader spectrum of consumers’ home management needs,” said Guthridge.


The study also focused on consumer interaction preferences. Consumers overwhelmingly prefer "Web-enabled channels,” such as Web portals, mobile applications and email, for the majority of their interactions. A majority of survey respondents said they prefer Web-enabled channels for changing their address (57 percent) and receiving their bill (71 percent). 


Consumers are also showing increased interest in engaging with their electricity providers through some form of social media. Thirty percent of consumers interact or plan to interact with their electricity provider on social networks, posting comments or following their provider’s "tweets.”  About two-thirds (68 percent) of respondents in emerging markets, such as Brazil, China, South Korea and South Africa, currently use or plan to use social media to discuss or learn about energy-related issues with other consumers or groups, compared with 29 percent of respondents from mature economies.


In terms of customer satisfaction and loyalty, most consumers in deregulated markets (55 percent) would recommend their electricity provider to family and friends, while 14 percent would not. One-quarter (25 percent) are considering switching to another electricity provider in the next 12 months.


Not surprisingly, the primary reason given for switching energy providers is saving money, as 89 percent of consumers in deregulated markets said that a reduced electricity bill would be a main factor motivating them to switch providers.


While price is important, it is not the only factor consumers consider. The study shows that 60 percent of consumers would be motivated to switch electricity providers for a rate plan that better suits their needs. Renewable energy options were also cited as an important factor in switching providers (by 33 percent), as were product and service bundles, loyalty rewards and better customer service.


Accenture’s Research Program and Methodology

Accenture’s annual global survey is based on questionnaire-led interviews with 10,158 residential end customers in 19 countries, conducted online in native languages in December 2011.


The study


is the third installment in Accenture’s multi-year New Energy Consumer research program aimed at gaining a deeper understanding of consumers’ attitudes, opinions and preferences toward energy management programs. The first installment, Understanding Consumer Preferences in Energy Efficiency, was released in April 2010. Complementing that research, the second installment, Revealing the Values of the New Energy Consumer, was released in April 2011.


About Accenture

Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with more than 246,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries.  Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments.  The company generated net revenues of US$25.5 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2011.  Its home page is



Global PV Installations to Grow by up to 21 Percent in 2012 Predicts IMS Research


Wellingborough, UK - 4th April 2012: Global solar PV installations will grow by at least 3.5 percent and up to 21 percent in 2012, according to a new report fromIMS Research,recently acquired by IHS Inc. (NYSE: IHS). The market analyst firm forecasts that despite incentive cuts in most of the world’s largest markets, global installations will grow from 26.9 GW in 2011 to between 27.8 GW and 32.6 GW in 2012, with Europe’s share of installations falling from 69 percent last year to 50 percent this year.


IMS Research’s Q1’12PV Demand Database, which tracks installations in more than 60 countries, revealed that new PV installations reached 26.9 GW in 2011 and its most-likely forecast shows this growing to 27.8 GW this year. (Note that figures are for installations and not grid connections; the figure for grid connections in 2011 would be much higher.) Ash Sharma, Senior Research Director for Photovoltaics, commented, "Despite many in the industry still expecting further doom and gloom, we in fact see a pick-up in demand driven by falling system prices, a rush to  beat incentive cuts, and the growing number of mid-sized emerging PV markets.”


The new report’s ‘optimistic forecast’ shows installations growing by 21 percent to 32.6 GW this year. "It is no longer a case of whether the PV market will grow in 2012, the real question now is by how much will it grow,” Sharma explained. "When you only consider a handful of countries like Germany, Italy and France, it’s easy be pessimistic about demand; however, when you look further afield and analyse demand from 60 countries, the picture becomes much more positive.”,.


According to the Q1’12 report, at least 23 counties will install 100 MW or more this year, up from just 17 last year. "It is this geographic diversification that will help drive growth in global PV installations this year as the market becomes less dependent on just one or two markets. Ultimately it will also lead to stability for the industry in the longer term as the impact of a single country’s policy will weaken,” added Sharma.


Germany, however, is still predicted to remain the largest and most important PV market this year and despite the overhaul to its FiT policy, new installations are predicted to reach at least six GW this year and up to 8.5 GW is even possible. Such a result would have been almost unthinkable a few months back, but IMS Research found that demand in Q1 was extremely high in a rush to beat the incoming changes.


Although Germany will remain the largest market, IMS Research predicts that China will become the second largest, followed closely by Italy. "China remains one of the most unpredictable factors in the global supply and demand balance. With European demand faltering, the Chinese government is under increased pressure to accelerate domestic deployment to support its huge manufacturing base. Installations of up to eight GW would be unlikely in China this year, but still a possibility,” concluded Sharma.


About PV Demand Database

IMS Research’s innovative database, which is being used by many of the leading companies in the PV industry, provides forecasts for new annual installed PV capacity in more than 40 countries. The data is updated every quarter to provide the most up-to-date projection for each market based on the latest data, such as equipment and system pricing, and incentives.


About IMS Research - Photovoltaics

IMS Research is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry, offering syndicated market studies, bespoke research and consultancy services. The company is one of the most respected commentators in the renewable energy field, with a particular expertise in the PV (solar) market. It currently has nine analysts and a 15-person research team dedicated to researching the PV market. It now offers over 25 reports and cover every aspect of the supply chain from polysilicon supply to PV modules, inverters and PV system;


About IHS Inc.(

IHS (NYSE: IHS) is the leading source of information, insight and analytics in critical areas that shape today's business landscape.  Businesses and governments in more than 165 countries around the globe rely on the comprehensive content, expert independent analysis and flexible delivery methods of IHS to make high-impact decisions and develop strategies with speed and confidence.  IHS has been in business since 1959, incorporated in the State of Delaware in 1994, and became a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange in 2005.  Headquartered in Englewood, Colorado, USA, IHS employs more than 5,500 people in more than 30 countries around the world.


SBI Energy Finds Microgrids Could be Key to Smart Grid Development


New York, NY - April 2, 2012â€"Microgrids could be the killer-app for Smart Grid development. Industrial and energy market research publisher SBI Energy reports that the boom in cheap and plentiful natural gas could lead to increased use of micro-turbines and the development of more microgrids. The U.S. military leads the world in deploying and testing new microgrid technologies. It is the primary driver fueling Smart Grid market growth, which is forecast at 5.8% CAGR through 2031.


A just released research report from SBI Energy, World Smart Grid, 2nd Edition, finds that microgrid growth areas are in universities and hospitals, industrial locations with combined heat and power (CHP) generating units, U.S. military bases, and small communities in Europe. If funding from the World Bank and other sources is forthcoming, there will also be growth potential for microgrid development in remote areas of Africa, Asia, and South America.


"Simply put, today’s power grid is having difficulty meeting the high quality, stable, and reliable power requirements of an increasingly sophisticated, technology-oriented world,” states Shelley Carr, SBI Energy publisher.  "’Smart’ or ‘intelligent’ technologies now exist that can significantly improve grid performance. With these technologies a ‘smarter’ grid will be able provide improved service reliability and more stable electric rates at a lower cost than simply building more infrastructure to meet increased demand.”


Smart grid development is moving into a "normal” period of growth following substantial activity as the results of government stimulus funding. As this funding runs its course, utilities and other stakeholders are having a harder time with new development efforts as a result of economic conditions, regulatory uncertainty, consumer acceptance, and other factors that constrain their ability to fund many Smart Grid projects. These and other considerations are addressed in the report as they pertain to inhibiting or advancing development of the Smart Grid.


World Smart Grid, 2nd Edition, presents an in-depth analysis of the development, applications, products, manufacturers, and trends in the worldwide development of the Smart Grid.  It provides a comprehensive analysis of the current market for Smart Grid enabling technologies and projects future market size through 2031. Market concerns including energy demand, environmental impact, economic conditions, consumer acceptance, stakeholder concerns, and government activities are discussed in terms of their impact on market growth for the Smart Grid and its enabling technologies. The report also profiles selected companies that manufacture and market technologies that enable the Smart Grid and the strategies they have adopted to maximize growth and profitability.


About SBI Energy

SBI Energy, a division of, publishes research reports in the industrial, energy, building/construction, and automotive/transportation markets. SBI Energy also offers a full range of custom research services. To learn more, visit



UTC Survey Shows that 60% of Utilities Currently Use Satellite Communications

In-depth analysis of satellite usage in the utility industry offers perspective on the benefits of satellite and misconceptions about latency and cost

HERNDON, Va., April 4, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- VT iDirect, Inc. (iDirect), a company of VT Systems, Inc. (VT Systems), and the Utilities Telecom Council (UTC) today released the results of a new study on satellite communications in the utility industry. The study, Strategic Assessment of Satellite Usage in the Utility Industry, was conducted to gain a better understanding of how satellite communications is currently used in the utility industry and to better articulate the benefits of modern VSAT systems. iDirect is a world leader in satellite-based IP communications technology.

Among the key findings were that 60% of utilities surveyed are already using some form of satellite communications technology. Of those not currently using satellite, 22% are planning to integrate the technology in the next two years. The study also revealed some misconceptions about satellite communications based on outdated technology, as well as a growing desire among utilities to learn more about advances in satellite technology.

The study, which was sponsored by iDirect, measured perceptions and usage trends relating to satellite communications through a focus group of top industry telecommunications technologists and through a survey of UTC's utility members, which comprised 100 completed responses from top communications decision-making technologists at 71 utilities.

Key Findings

·         The top benefit of satellite technology was cited as ubiquitous coverage. This was also the top benefit for commercial wireless services, but for security and management reasons, many utilities prefer the private networking capabilities of satellite over using a public wireless network.

·         Satellite is most frequently used for back-up voice communications with SCADA and substation automation a close second.

·         Misconceptions around high latency and high cost are two barriers to implementation for satellite communications, but these perceptions are likely based on experiences with legacy satellite technology. The study showed that the vast majority (78%) of utilities are interested in learning more about modern VSAT systems.


          "Utilities are coping with ever-increasing demands on their communications infrastructures, particularly as they work to modernize and implement the new smart grid. UTC is proud to work with iDirect on this important study, which offers a wealth of useful information for utility operators on the benefits of satellite as a communications solution and the essential role that satellite will play in the future of the utility industry."

President and CEO, UTC

"With the majority of utilities already invested in some form of satellite technology, and a significant percentage planning to add satellite in the next two years, this study reveals a huge opportunity for VSAT solutions to help shape the future of the utility industry. The findings also reveal that satellite providers need to take the lead in educating utilities about the benefits of modern satellite technology and how they support back-up communications, SCADA, substation automation and other critical applications."

Chief Marketing Officer, iDirect


Utilities Telecom Council (UTC), is an international trade association representing the information and communications technology (ICT) interests of electric, gas and water utilities. UTC is widely recognized as a global expert on utility communications policy and technologies, conducting complex public and private research projects on behalf of our membership and clients. UTC's 500+ members include investor, government, and cooperatively owned utilities and their technology partners. UTC has a proven track record of issuing timely information bulletins, hosting important webinars and mounting national, regional and local events aimed at translating critical technical information into practical how-to guidance for utility technologists. We also produce high-profile and timely research studies and analysis that tackle the top issues facing utilities as they revamp communications networks to manage 21st Century energy and critical infrastructure challenges.

iDirect, a subsidiary of VT Systems, is a global leader in IP-based satellite communications providing technology that enables our 350+partners to optimize their networks, differentiate and expand their businesses. The iDirect Intelligent Platformâ„¢ allows our partners to run their entire business operations more efficiently via a single, unified IP-based satellite architecture, whether it's providing core IP applications to the enterprise or specialized services to any number of diverse vertical markets. iDirect is the #1 name in global satellite communications in key industries including maritime, military/government, and oil and gas, with a 62% hub market share and more than a quarter million remotes installed worldwide. In 2007, iDirect Government Technologies (iGT) was formed to drive adoption of its IP-based solutions in the U.S. government market. In 2008, iDirect Asia Pte Ltd was established in Singapore to enhance its value-add and responsiveness to customers in the Asia Pacific region. For more information please visit

VT Systems is an engineering company providing integrated solutions to the commercial and government markets in the aerospace, electronics, land systems and marine sectors. VT Systems' innovative solutions, products and services include aircraft maintenance, repair and modification; software solutions in training and simulation; satellite-based IP communications technology; network solutions that integrate data, voice and video; rugged computers and computer peripheral equipment; specialized truck bodies and trailers; weapons and munitions systems; road construction equipment; and ship design and shipbuilding. Headquartered in Alexandria, Va., VT Systems operates globally and is a wholly owned subsidiary of ST Engineering. Please visit