Intel Making Moves Into Smart Grid Technology


Photo via Karl-Martin Skontorp via Flickr CC

Intel - alongside practically every other major IT company - is launching in on smart grid projects, starting off with partnering up with other companies to run pilot tests of several different types of home energy management devices in Oregon. Being part of the smart grid is becoming a must-do for technology companies, particularly those with a stake in communications and device management, since we'll continue to (slowly) see progress toward a fully integrated electrical grid that links consumers to their utilities with real time energy information an pricing. Intel's take is that while the smart grid will be one big beast, we have a need for many different types of home energy management systems. And that's where it's starting to take a bigger role. CNet reports, "The chip giant has developed a broad strategy to make money on smart-grid technologies, touching on everything from high-performance computing to simulate the electricity grid to home energy management systems." In addition, Intel is working with Tendril Networks on a program that connects a user's home energy settings with their IP television.

It's an idea mentioned in practically every conversation about home energy management - different types of people need the information presented in different ways, and in different locations, in order for it to impact their behavior. Too many companies are trying to create catch-all systems. Instead, Intel is acknowledging that there are a lot of ways to go about programing, receiving, and reacting to information about energy consumption and communicating with utilities, and that it's productive to have all these many forms of communication since it's the communication that really matters. It will ultimately boil down to a handful of devices that work best for most people, but testing a wide variety is a great place to start.

Intel already has created its own home energy dashboard concept device, and showed it off at CES 2010. As I stood at the booth checking it out, there were several people asking what it was, what it did, why we needed something like this, which proved that we have a long way to go before knowledge about and desire for devices such as these filter into mainstream consciousness. That's one reason why Google's PowerMeter and its partnership with The Energy Detective device is exciting - a company with that kind of reach among consumers will help get these other devices off the ground as well.

In addition to its own home energy dashboard device, Intel has partnered with Open Peak, which has already created OpenFrame 7, another device I saw at CES 2010 and is part of a pilot project. And according to CNet, Intel is also looking at getting its chips inside other devices linked into the smart grid, such as servers for grid substations.

More on the Smart Grid
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Chinese Gov't to Spend More on Smart Grid Projects than U.S. in 2010

Tags: Computing | Electronics | Energy Efficiency | Utilities