Utilities are expected to spend nearly $140 billion between 2014 and 2022 on the deployment of IT systems needed to support new smart-grid infrastructure, according to a new study from Navigant Research.
The market-research company says IT will play a critical role as the traditional grid network evolves into a far more complex system.
“A dizzying array of solutions has emerged to meet utilities’ IT needs for the smart grid,” says Richelle Elberg, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. “This is a period of rapid change, and the difficulties associated with legacy system replacement and new system integration are not minor – but the potential benefits are real and increasingly measurable in terms of grid efficiency, reliability, and financial viability.”
Navigant says IT vendors are working on developing more interoperable solutions to meet utilities’ needs and ease the transition to a smart grid – while also developing what it calls “creative purchasing models”, such as managed services.
Because legacy utility IT systems were not designed to handle the volume or speeds of data generated by the smart grid, new hardware may be needed in addition to new software systems – points out Navigant – to maximize the value of information gathered by grid devices.
Utilities are increasingly looking to outsourced data centers to meet these needs, adds Navigant.