A growing global smart grid market

Pike Research says that interest in the implementation of micro grids is growing internationally. A new report from the company forecasts that total installed generation capacity for campus micro grids will increase by 164 percent between 2011 and 2017, rising from 620 megawatts to 1.6 gigawatts. By 2017, the end of the forecast period, Pike Research expects the campus micro grid market to achieve US$777 million in annual revenue.

The smart meter and grid deployments grew at a steady moderate pace in the fourth quarter of 2011, with large projects in China and North America fuelling demand. Last year, vendors shipped a total of nearly 73 million smart meters. Shipments in China took the largest slice of the pie throughout 2011. Pike Research says however that the Chinese market remains ambiguous since it is unclear how these new meters are actually configured and used.

Micro grids in India and South Africa

The micro grids deployed by Echelon will be deployed at Palm Meadows in Hyderabad, India and Clearwater Mall in Johannesburg, South Africa. Palm Meadows is an 86-acre integrated gated community with 335 homes and residential services while Clearwater Mall is a retail building housing more than 240 stores.

Palm Meadows also seeks to incorporate solar power in the future to its micro grid. Echelon’s has equipped the residences with smart meters that connect into data concentrators at distribution transformers and feed near real-time information into the company’s Networked Energy Systems (NES) software. Grene Robotics’ Skynet management application automatically turns on local generation if utility-delivered power is inadequate.

The Skynet software interfaces with the NES system software and creates a bill for the customer that reflects the customers’ actual use of lower cost grid power and more expensive locally generated power. Customers have the option of reducing usage at times when the more expensive energy is being supplied. The Palm Meadows micro grid is providing reliable service even during frequent utility grid outages and enabling the customer to make intelligent trade-offs between comfort and cost.

Kiran Penmatcha, CEO of Grene Robotics said, "Like a national power grid, the Palm Meadows micro grid manages generation, distribution, and the regulation of the flow of electricity to its households. We are pleased to have helped implement a proven, open and multi-application energy control infrastructure that enables Palm Meadows to become distributors of energy within their community. Today, the community is evaluating the integration of solar generated electricity for the future. Tomorrow, the community may look to add other applications, such as outdoor lighting control on the same infrastructure."

South Africa faces major power shortages and such incidents can have a large impact on the commercial sector. Echelon cooperates with PMT (Power Meter Technics) on the mall micro grid project. Tenants can opt-in to local power supply when blackouts occur. PMT’s Meteringonline application interfaces to Echelon’s system software and reconciles usage with energy source, allocating tariffs based on actual use. The on-demand energy services allow the store owners to manage their energy usage and associated costs and maximize revenues.