It will pay to go green
The emergence of the smart grid has brought with it a raft of new companies all trying to get a piece of what will be, it is widely acknowledged, a considerable pie. Top execs at Cisco have already publicly declared that the smart grid will be 'as big in reach as the Internet' and with green issues already high on the agenda of government and consumer alike, it would appear that technological advances are supporting and driving the demand for eco-friendly savings.
With a smart grid and demand response pricing on the horizon, energy monitoring is a particularly popular topic at the moment, that is, giving consumers access to real-time data about their energy consumption, effectively empowering them by offering enough information to make an informed decision about their consumption. Intamac’s own solution goes one step further and takes that information to the ‘cloud’ where it can be manipulated and presented to the consumer via a simple interface shown on their PC or handheld device. Using this same interface a consumer could then control the devices in the home i.e. turn down/switch off to make energy savings. The process adds a layer of automation that makes it even simpler for the consumer to take action and adds value to the energy monitoring proposition.
The future for the home could see standards change for the construction of new homes too. According to Pike Research, Green building techniques are increasingly becoming the standard within the architecture and construction industries and green buildings can sometimes command higher property values and rents. It is also estimated that green building certifications will cover 53 billion square feet of space in the US by 2020. A green certified home could save money on utility bills, reduce the carbon footprint and even be worth more than a normal non-certified property.
The huge investment so far and the interest of companies like Microsoft, Google and Cisco shows the confidence there is in the market for the smart grid and its associated technologies. Importantly it highlights the potential of smart metering and more specifically, what the smart meter represents to these firms - which is access to the HAN and leveraging other services via this gateway to the home.
To establish energy saving practices and technologies requires an initial investment, whether this is by utilities/government on a large scale or consumers on a small scale, in order to realise savings over the longer term. For consumers, the cost of implementing energy saving technology and equipment in the home can be quite cost effective and, in the case of the Real-Time Display, pays for itself in less than a year. However, consumers may be more prepared to accept the initial outlay if, as with Intamac's 'cloud' based platform, there are greater benefits to the technology other than just saving a few pounds a year and easing one's social conscience.