In the grand scheme of environmentally-friendly technologies, the smart grid can tend to fall somewhat under the general users radar. Cities electrical grids are not of immediate concern to most consumers even ones who are conscious of improving the way they use energy. But the smart grid is a rapidly growing technological infrastructure that is enhancing the way urban communities consume and recycle electricity, and contribute to the global effort to minimize human impact on the environment. This next-generation electrical system employs both communications and information technology to better manage how electrical energy is processed.
As smart grids become more common, cities and states are experimenting with various tools. Hawaii Electric is reportedly working on an electric water heater project to deploy networked, utility-responsive water heaters in small and medium-sized businesses on the island of Oahu, according to GreentechMedia. Smart meters, used to monitor gas usage, have already been implemented in certain cities around the world, and connect to the broader grid to help homeowners manage electrical energy usage. (Although the U.K.s smart meter initiative has been delayed until 2016.)
These projects are gathering greater funding as well. Various governments have implemented policies that require research and mandatory advancement into the smart grid space, but as with much green tech the process is slow-going. Still, analysts forecast steady growth for smart grid production: Navigant Research recently predicted that worldwide revenue from smart grid technologies is expected to grow from $44.1 billion in 2014 to $70.2 billion in 2023.
FierceSmartGrid quotes Richelle Elberg, a senior research analyst with the firm: "Transmission system upgrades are being driven by the need to interconnect offshore or remote wind and solar farms, as well as ongoing electrification across Asia Pacific and other developing regions. Meanwhile, government mandates, particularly in Europe, are expected to continue to drive strong smart meter penetration gains over the next decade."
Certain gadgets have already been designed to enhance the general users smart energy consumption such as smart thermostats and smart gas meters. Those devices play into the structure of the smart grid. As the internet of things progresses, there should be more smart home devices come to market that will integrate with electrical energy functionality. Smart lighting systems, refrigerators, and heating and cooling systems remain futuristic ideas for many, but a very possible future for those looking at the smart home market.
Of course, with new technologies comes the opportunity to infiltrate them. Usually, hackers can find ways into networks faster than developers can find ways to prevent them from gaining access. But smart grid hacking will have to be a concern for developers of both hardware and software alike particularly as the internets role in connecting the layman to the smart grid grows.
Source: Blouin Beat
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