Where we've been, where we're going: NRG's smart grid FAQs and primer


By: SGN Staff


A global smart grid review from energy intelligence and market research publisher NRG Experts doesn't provide much in the way of startling news, but it does clearly illustrate the progress that has been made and how much more is likely in the future.


As the headline suggests, the review does a fairly good job of hitting the smart grid basics: investments needed, smart meters, market drivers, key players, overall benefits and the things that are getting in the way.


NRG, based in London and Toronto, considers these the top five smart grid stats:

·         $2 trillion: estimated total investment required for full smart grid implementation

·         $480 billion: estimated cost of smart grid-related upgrades in the U.S. (right in line with the $400-$500 billion numbers we've been seeing for some time)

·         $100 billion: smart grid market true value by 2020

·         400%: the percentage Western electricity prices will jump in 30 years if the current electric grids do not become smart grids

·         $90 billion: China's anticipated smart grid technology investment by 2020


Smart grid drivers, the review says, include increased energy demand, the push to reduce outages and carbon emissions and pressure to incorporate more renewables (particularly wind and PV solar) into the energy portfolio.


As far as pluses and minuses are concerned, NRG says the smart grid business case is becoming weighted toward utilities because of these benefits: reduced labor costs (because of less meter reading in the field, for example), reduced investments in additional capacity, improved power supply and more.


The challenges to implementation mentioned probably won't come as a surprise: primarily the present low cost of electricity and the security risks and vulnerabilities associated with the smart grid.


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