Pike Research has released a report that says that the use of home area networks (HANs) is set to take off. The drive towards more energy efficiency, better technology and the wider use of common standards will result in 57.5 million HANs in place by 2020.
HANs are a logical next step after smart meter deployment. The networks allow home electrical devices to communicate with the grid and access information and applications that can help reduce energy use and save money. They are seen as the final piece in the jigsaw that makes smart grids beneficial to both utilities and consumers. Until now, though, uptake has been slow.
According to Neil Strother, senior research analyst at Pike, “Inhibiting factors, including consumer indifference, the high cost of new gear, evolving standards, and tepid utility support, continue to dog the HAN market. Nevertheless, the opportunity for consumers to save money on their energy bills will be a strong motivator, and HANs that can take advantage of new smart metering capabilities will offer them new ways to do that.”
The Home Area Networks report says that from a starting point of just 18,000 shipments worldwide in 2011, the market will grow to almost four million in 2020. North America will lead, followed by Western Europe. Government requirements will be a driver and growth will be higher where ‘time-of-use pricing schemes’ are in place.
Review: The use of HANs will certainly increase in the coming years, but forecasts will need to be treated with caution, given the various uncertainties surrounding adoption.
It’s true to say that saving money on energy bills will be a strong motivator for HAN adoption, but the benefits will only really be felt when the home networks have Home Energy Management (HEM) solutions attached and have access to fully-fledged smart grids. Smart grids are still some way off (at least in the UK) and smart meter implementation alone is unlikely to be a significant driver of HANs (not helped by the bad publicity that smart meters are receiving in some countries).
On the other hand, home networks aimed at managing energy use will surely come and they threaten to encroach on the territory of existing IT suppliers. While both Google and Microsoft have already dabbled in the market with HEM devices, and then withdrawn, don’t expect either company to just standby and watch. The involvement of major IT companies is likely to be a significant driver, as and when they see the time as right.
At least that’s what I think – read the report for Pike’s views.