In September 2010 Paul Budde attended the Gridwise Global Forum in Washington DC and presented at two of the panels. This report draws on Paul’s ten-year involvement in this market to highlight the key topics that were discussed and to analyse the issues surrounding them.
Progress is certainly being made, but because of its nature the concept of smart grids continues to be ill-defined and rather fluid and this makes it difficult to develop firm plans of action. Smart grids involve several key elements - the grid itself, the consumer home energy network, and the facility to include and manage renewable energy and e-cars.
The electricity utilities started off with one of the smart grid elements, the smart meter, and that still dominates many of the developments. At the same time it does to a certain extent limit more truly ‘smart’ developments. And the focus is still very much associated with the traditional grid and the upgrading that is needed there.
The jury is still out on how smart grids are going to be developed. Will the industry lead the development of smart grids? Will it be government-mandated or will disruptive elements force changes in a traditionally risk-averse and slow-moving industry?