French ministers conditionally approve GrDF smart meter rollout

French ministers have given their approval to the rollout of a nationwide smart grid by GrDF, France’s natural gas distribution business.

In a statement published on its website, GrDF (Paris, France) said that Pierre Moscovici, France’s economy minister, and Philippe Martin, its ecology minister, had given their conditional approval to the scheme, and would make a final decision following a tender for the rollout to be conducted by GrDF.

Silver Spring to deploy New Zealand smart grid for SmartCo

New Zealand’s SmartCo has hired Silver Spring Networks for the deployment of a smart grid across the country.

Under the agreement, SmartCo (Auckland, New Zealand) will offer smart metering services to energy retailers based on Silver Spring’s (Redwood City, CA, USA) platform, while SmartCo members will use the same platform to provide improved services to consumers, such as faster outage detection and restoration and improved power quality.

u-blox launches new 2G module for explosive environments

M2M hardware specialist u-blox has launched a new module that works on GSM and GPRS networks and is designed for use in devices operating in potentially explosive environments, such as gas smart meters.

The so-called SARA G350 ATEX provides support for a range of M2M applications requiring dual or quad-band GSM/GPRS, voice and data and in-band modem support for eCall and ERA GLOSNASS vehicle emergency call applications.

GE wins $200 million smart-meter deal from ComEd

GE has won a $200 million contract from ComEd to help modernize Chicago’s electricity grid.

Under the deal, GE (Fairfield, CT, USA) is to deploy some four million smart grids in the Chicago area between now and 2021.

ComEd (Chicago, IL, USA), the largest electricity utility in the state of Illinois, says the meters will allow customers to better manage energy usage and help it to more quickly detect power outages and restore service.

Orange touts smart-cities strategy, partners with Streetline

French telecoms incumbent Orange has unveiled a five-point program for addressing the smart-cities opportunity and announced a new partnership with US-based Streetline that will aid its push into the smart-parking market.

The operator claims the smart cities program supports growth ambitions outlined in its Conquests 2015 plan and says it is working alongside local authorities in France to help transform cities through the use of digital technology.

Poland's Energa may get $250 million from EBRD for smart grid

The European Bank for Reconstruction & Development (EBRD) is considering whether to lend Poland’s Energa around $250 million to fund the development of a smart grid.

A posting on the bank’s website indicates that the loan has already been approved by the EBRD’s board but has yet to be signed off.

The loan period is given as 15 years, with the EBRD expecting financing to be “partly syndicated”.

Smart-grid technologies to generate $73 billion in 2020: Navigant Research

The global market for smart-grid technologies will generate $73 billion in annual revenue by the end of 2020, up from $33 billion in 2012, according to the latest data from Navigant Research.

The projection means the market generating cumulative revenue of $461 million between 2013 and 2020.

Navigant says there is still considerable potential for growth in countries with populations of more than 100 million, and especially in Africa, where there has been almost no activity in this area so far.

Mobily and Netcomm to fuel M2M growth in Middle East

Australian hardware specialist Netcomm Wireless has won an M2M supply deal with Saudi Arabia’s Mobily that it claims will bolster vertical-sector opportunities in the Middle East by allowing M2M services to work over 3G networks.

Under the arrangement, Netcomm (Sydney, Australia) is to supply Mobily (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia) with outdoor industrial routers that can be used to support M2M services in areas that are poorly served by existing 3G networks.

The devices feature external 3G and WiFi antennas that boost signals in remote regions.

New trade group will demonstrate business benefits of M2M, says Oracle

Software giant Oracle has championed the cause of the International M2M Council – of which it is a founder member – saying the newly formed trade group will demonstrate the business benefits of M2M services to a variety of vertical markets.

“The IMC intends to show vertical markets how M2M works and what’s in it for them,” says Chris Baker, Oracle’s senior vice president for Worldwide ISV, OEM and Java sales.

“M2M cuts across broad and diverse markets, and the key to evangelism success will be tapping the resources of IMC member companies.”

Alstom and Intel team up on smart grids

Energy company Alstom Grid is to work with chipmaker Intel on the development of technologies for smart grids and smart cities.

The two companies aim to focus on embedded intelligence and IT systems security in order to speed up the deployment of smart-grid infrastructure.

The deal is described as the fruit of three years of project collaboration.

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