As technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, there are massive changes taking place in the energy and utility industry. The energy grid that’s currently in use has been around for a long time — and the aging infrastructure is costly, inefficient, and unreliable. The world is moving toward standardized clean energy technology, and smart grids are at the heart of this movement.
There are a number of different technologies currently fueling growth in the smart grid industry, in both core and grid-edge areas. These include:
- Smart meters, sensors, and software
- Transmission gear technologies
- Distribution automation through flexible, intelligent distribution systems
- Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology
- Charging stations for electric vehicles
- Demand response systems
Here are some facts about smart grids, and the role IT will play in the future of cleaner, more intelligent energy distribution, storage, and management.
Smart grids are substantially more efficient
The longer something has been in use, the more likely it is to fail. This is the case with the current energy grid — failure is more frequent, and it costs everyone. While the existing electricity system has 99.97 percent reliability, power interruptions and outages still occur, and cost Americans an average of $150 billion or more each year — roughly $500 per person.
Aging infrastructures, retiring professionals, and the increasing use of solar and other distributed power generation resources are leading to gaps in safety and stability. Smart grids are becoming increasingly necessary to support — and eventually replace — a grid that is already relying more on newer technologies to sustain operation.
Companies are creating smart grid-based services
For hardware and software vendors, smart grid technology offers the potential for a range of management services that will benefit consumers and the energy industry. Examples of smart grid-enabled service include:
- Home energy management
- Asset management and condition monitoring
- Demand response services
- Advanced metering infrastructures
- Automation for distribution and substation communications
- Software solutions and analytics
A market forecast from Navigant Research predicts that the global market for services based on smart grid technology will grow from $1.7 billion in 2014, to over $11.1 billion by 2023.
Workforce development is vital to smart grid success
Many STEM-related careers are already experiencing talent shortages. In the coming years, this is expected to increase — and jobs relating to smart grids will be among the most pressing. To meet this need, the U.S. Department of Energy backs and promotes the Consortium for Electric Reliability Technology Solutions, which works with universities and other institutions to advance the smart grid through the development of new methods and technologies.
One of the largest categories in the smart grid industry is likely to be the market for IT solutions, and IT smart grid jobs will be in high demand. From transmission upgrades to analytics solution, smart grid IT is expected to grow as an industry to more than $23 billion by 2023.
Data scientists who work with smart grid technologies will also be in high demand, but many utility companies will be unable to afford the creation of a dedicated data scientist role. For this reason, some are turning to outsourced solutions that allow multiple utility clients to leverage one expert — a strategy that is likely to become more popular as smart grid technology spreads.
For more information on IT’s role in clean energy, or to find candidates who understand the necessity for implementing this type of technology in your workplace, contact The Armada Group today.