Cisco has added to its Connected Grid smart grid solutions in recent weeks and gave an update of progress on Friday.
The company’s smart grid vision is summarised as an ‘end-to-end IP-based communication platform integrated with the power grid from generation to consumption’. (Of course not everyone agrees with the architecture).
The diagram below shows the various aspects of the vision. The columns on the right-hand side are the new areas and I reported on the company’s first purpose built products – grid router and switch - when they were announced last month.
The more recent announcements have been around home energy management solutions, for both home and business use. It includes a touch-screen display and energy management software for monitoring and controlling energy use. The device connects to smart meters and has Ethernet and wifi connectivity for connection to a home network as well as slots for new interfaces in the future.
The company is also offering hosted services to support the devices when deployed in homes. The services includes provisioning, customising the devices, firmware updates and integration with back-end applications. The display can handle demand response analytics, for instance, and can be configured to react to critical price signal.
Users can monitor individual devices and there will be a cloud-based consumer portal where they can call up usage predictions, budget comparisons, comparisons with other similar users, energy savings tips, etc. Cisco is working with third parties on other peripherals that can be connected to the device and has an open API to allow the integration of other systems into the cloud.
Cisco is certainly going for the smart grid market – investment must be significant – but there are still a lot of hurdles ahead before it can be assured of a slice of the market. While the Home Energy Controller is apparently designed as a global solution, it will first be available in the US this summer. The global market will be a difficult challenge, given the variety of solutions, technologies, utilities and governments that are likely to have some say in smart grids and smart meters.
But Cisco is certainly helping to push the market along and provides one clear vision of what a smart grid/smart meters will look like. The company’s success came from helping build the internet, so you can see the appeal of having a hand in building smart grids.