Cisco is unveiling its master plan for cornering the communications of the smart grid today in Boston, CNET reports.
Cisco thinks the smart grid will be a $100 billion market opportunity, with the communication portion worth $20 billion.
A Cisco rep tells CNET that the network for the smart grid will be “100 or 1,000 times larger than the Internet. If you think about it, some homes have Internet access, but some don’t. Everyone has electricity access–all of those homes could potentially be connected.”
The smart grid is a complicated plan to overhaul the way we access information about electricity. It involves wiring everything digitally so that we have perpetual knowledge of power use. The meter in the home is replaced with a ‘smart meter’ that sends information to the utility who can keep an eye on all the power used in a home.
Eventually, consumers can wirelessly hook up all the outlets in their home to provide information on per appliance basis to the utility to monitor. That way when there’s too much power running at once, the utility can shut down certain appliances. To get customers on board, the utilities offer attractive rates for customers signed into the program.
With all the new data being produced, Cisco can sell data centres to utilities. It’s also working on home networks and smart meter security systems. Other examples from CNET: “Cisco could make a home energy controller device or software for its Linksys routers and set-top boxes to give consumers a read-out of how much energy different appliances use.”
For all the excitement about the smart grid, its still years away from happening. Most utilities are just starting to try it out, and it will probably take federal legislation to make the smart grid a reality. As it stands now, there’s little incentive for most utilities to use energy efficiently. The more energy you use, the more they get paid.
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