The smart grid revolution starts... tomorrow?

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By: SGN Staff

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Quick Take: Those of us in the middle of the smart grid industry tend to think of it as old news. After all, Smart Grid News has been publishing for more than a decade. For some observers on the outside, however, it feels as if the last 10 years has just been a rehearsal for the real revolution to come. That's the opinion of one electric products manufacturer, as you will read below.

 

On the one hand, I think most of our "internal" transformation is past us and we're into the mainstream. On the other, I agree with his implication that the real societal impact will occur when the smart grid begins to interact directly with other sectors -- such as the built environment which, according to this source, can become a terrific source of energy storage. - By Jesse Berst

 

The electricity industry is beginning a 'transformational journey' similar to the one the telecommunications industry launched 25 years ago. That according to Sean O'Driscoll, Chairman and CEO of Glen Dimplex, a leading manufacturer of electric heating products, as reported in Silicon Republic.

 

"What is going to happen is you will have the merging of the electricity industry, ICT, telecommunications and the Internet," he said. Speaking at the Open Innovation 2.0 conference at Dublin Castle, he made these points:

·         By 2020, 40% of Ireland's electricity and 30% of the UK's electricity will come from renewable sources, creating a fundamental problem -- how to manage the intermittency. That will create an urgent need for energy storage.

·         The best source of energy storage? Buildings!

 

O'Driscoll's company is pioneering a new system for managing water and space heating. It stores renewable energy at off-peak times, then releases the heat (or the hot water) as needed. He calls it "the first smart grid-enabled electricity heater."

 

We've seen grid-friendly appliances from GE and Whirlpool. If O'Driscoll is right, soon almost all devices that use large amounts of electricity will ship with some kind of grid connection.

 

Jesse Berst is the founder and Chief Analyst of SGN and Chairman of the Smart Cities Council, an industry coalition.