GTM Research has forecast that cumulative global spending on smart grid-related analytics will reach $20.6bn between 2012 and 2020, with an annual spend of $3.8bn globally at the end of the forecast period. The research firm estimates that for utilities deploying these technologies, the achieved return on this investment will exceed $121.8bn globally over the same nine-year period. The figures come in a report entitled ‘The Soft Grid 2013-2020: Big Data & Utility Analytics for Smart Grid’.
GTM says that with the introduction of big data and analytics to the utility industry, the potential of smart grid has shifted away from the original aim of adding a myriad of new applications toward a complete re-invention of the utility business. Now the market is becoming much more focused on the data analytics software that will allow utilities to track, visualise and predict consumer behaviour. That’s the the core elements of what GTM calls the Soft Grid.
There are a number of data technologies driving the growth as well as a range of vendors. While the biggest names in IT are jockeying for position in the market, GTM believes there will be several companies that will be launched in this Soft Grid space that utilities will look to for new products and services.
Review: It’s an interesting conclusion from GTM. It did initially look like smart meters and smart grids would generate a wide range of new applications which would quickly take off. But their implementation has perhaps been slowed by the piecemeal introduction of smart meters and grids. It’s all a bit chicken-and-egg – these add-on applications will only have real value when smart meters and grids are fully implemented, which is some way off for most of the world.
Meanwhile, Big Data (the capitals are obligatory) and associated analytics has become a hot topic in IT as companies begin to realise the potential. That’s particularly true of utilities, who see immediate benefits from using the technology with the customer information they already have, let alone the massively increased volumes that smart meters and grids will provide.