The top 10 trends from the year’s big smart grid show | gigaOM
One of the year’s largest smart grid conferences — DistribuTECH — closes today in San Antonio, Texas. The event is relatively unknown in IT and web circles, but it’s like the CES for utilities, power companies and the vendors that are trying to sell them stuff.
However, I’m interested in what seems to be a growing number of startups and entrepreneurs at the event, and that seems to be a sign that real innovation and new business models are actually starting to happen when it comes to adding digital intelligence to the power grid and managing energy data.
Here are the top 10 trends that I took away from the event:
1. Managing big data. Managing large streams of energy data is fundamental to the future of the grid, as well as for helping consumers reduce their energy consumption. What methods the software companies use will also determine how well they’ll do in the industry. Startups like Opower and Tendril are essentially big-data plays, using cloud computing tools and sophisticated analytics, and both companies released interesting news at the show. Oracle, touting its software and data management, had a huge booth on the floor. I chatted with both the newly acquired Ecologic Analytics (bought by Landis+Gyr) and eMeter (acquired by Siemens), and these companies manage the massive amounts of data that flow off of meters for utilities. Cloud computing is no longer a dirty word for utilities; in fact, it’s likely the future of this business.
2. The Internet of Things. Beyond connecting meters and grid devices, the smart grid really extends to create the Internet of Things, connecting cars, home batteries, solar panels, light bulbs, thermostats, and consumer electronics like televisions and cell phones. The term the Internet of Things is oft-used in IT circles, but hasn’t really caught on in the smart grid and utility industries. But it will, and it will also provide new lines of business for the power grid vendors.