Report: smart grids shifting to standards-based technologies

According to a new report from Pike Research, vendors are rushing to provide standards-compliant or standards-capable smart-grid technologies, driven by utilities that increasingly regard their communications networks as strategic assets.

According to a new report from Pike Research, vendors are rushing to provide standards-compliant or standards-capable smart-grid technologies, driven by utilities that increasingly regard their communications networks as strategic assets.

Traditionally, the communications networks operated by utilities have been deployed within vertical silos using proprietary and application-specific technologies. In 2010, for example, only 3% of global shipments of radio frequency-based communications nodes for distribution automation and advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) applications were based on fully standardized technologies. Pike expects this figure to soar to more than 70% by 2015 and to 85% by 2020.

“The promise of standards-based, multi-purpose utility networks is finally arriving,” said chief research director Bob Gohn. “While there is still room for innovative proprietary network elements, the momentum is clearly with standard IP-based wired and wireless technologies, whether provided by public carriers or on privately built networks.”

As utilities shift toward a fully integrated grid-wide communications system, this market will grow to generate $2.96 billion in sales in 2014, before revenues fall to just less than $2.6 billion a year in 2020, according to the report. The revenue peak in the middle of the decade will result from the convergence of major smart-grid and smart-meter deployments in China, Europe and North America.