In order for the U.S. to meet future energy demands, utility companies are going to have to make significant changes to the manner in which they distribute power. Over the last few years, the smart grid initiative has begun to gain momentum as a possible way to reduce the nation’s energy consumption through an efficient allocation of power.
To gain a better understanding of the smart grid initiative, the benefits associated with its implementation and the concerns about its widespread use, TMC (News - Alert) CEO Rich Tehrani recently conducted an interview with Rajit Gadh, director of the UCLA Smart Grid Energy Research Center.
During the conversation, Gadh predicted that the decade of the smart grid will begin in the near future and that the pervasive adoption of smart home products could commence as soon as next year.
Gadh will be speaking at the upcoming Smart Grid Summit in Los Angeles, which is part of ITEXPO (News - Alert) West 2010. For more information on the future of the smart grid initiative, check out the complete interview below.
What is the most significant trend impacting the utility market? Why?
Convergence (News - Alert) of communication mediums, including mobile, wireless, sensors and computing with the power systems.
How much influence should regulators have over smart grid initiatives?
Regulators should provide balanced representation for consumers, utilities, communities, societies, governments, industries and the climate.
How important is the growth of 4G wireless to the success of smart grid initiatives?
4G wireless needs to support Smart Grid requirements and as such is very important.
Don’t smart grids potentially present a major security threat?
Smart Grids will create new and currently unimaginable ways of interacting with, monitoring and controlling the grid of the future. It will come with substantial opportunities and challenges. Security is one such challenge. Others include scalability, reliability, economical deployment, modularity and standards – all of which have to be addressed.
How long do you think the adoption curve will be for smart home products? What will drive adoption?
Anywhere between one to five years. It should provide some benefit to the consumer, in whatever way the consumer defines "beneficial". To make it exciting for customers to install home products, one should provide choices, much like today’s cellular phone industry.
Is there a future for electric cars?
Yes, a very strong future, and it will come upon us sooner than many predict.
Which will be the year of the smart grid?
I believe there will be a decade of smart grid starting in 2011, much like the 90s was a decade for the mobile media and wireless industry.
How do you see the communications market overlapping with the smart grid space if at all?
We may initially overlay communications technology over existing power systems infrastructure, and eventually, communications and computing will be integrated within the infrastructure.
What is the most overhyped technology in your opinion?
There is a lot of excitement and therefore also a lot of noise. It will settle down as customers weigh in on what they want.
You are speaking at the upcoming Smart Grid Summit in Los Angeles. What is your session about? Why is it a can’t-miss session for attendees?
This session should help the utilities understand what is happening across the US and the world in smart grid demos, trials and deployment. It should help them understand the cost-benefit issues, technical challenges and opportunities in a changing world of smart grid.
Please make a bold technology prediction for 2011.
It would be terrific if utilities and consumers worldwide could see the benefits of Smart Grid and decide to go on a path towards trialing technologies that work for their individual and regional situations.
Beecher Tuttle is a Web Editor for TMCnet. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. He received his bachelor's degree in English from the University of Colorado.
Edited by Beecher Tuttle