Everyone is starting to come together. Photo via eflon via Flickr CC
We'd hoped to start seeing some progress by summer, and it looks like the first 16 smart grid standards have been announced by the U.S. Departments of Energy and Commerce, marking the slow arrival of standardization that is necessary to get a national smart grid up and running. The new standards cover a range of smart grid technologies, from smart meters to security issues. One of the major reasons smart grid technology is so slow to arrive is because utility companies are huge and not very agile. The new smart grid technology requires them to change the way they do business, which is very uncomfortable. Not only that, but technologies need to be universal so that the grid can be accessible and upgradeable, which means all companies have to be on the same page when they're developing products and services. With so many diverse businesses coming together - from metering to dashboards to security and more - it proves to be an enormous and complicated undertaking.
The standards announced so far are just the tip of the iceberg. Chris Knudsen, director of Pacific Gas and Electric's Technology Innovation Centre, says that there may eventually be thousands of standards.
Smart Meters reports:
He said integrating these would only be the first step - there must also be a compliance program that guarantees the standards are universally adopted. "Without a defined set of tests, engineers will do things a little differently and you won't get plug-and-play interoperability," he explained.
Think about what a pain it is not to have a universal charger for your gadgets, and multiply that inconvenience by millions of people trying to tap into major utilities... That's why easy interoperability is so important. It means the smart grid will be able to expand and evolve without major growing pains, which would prove to be extremely expensive. However, we still need to see some rapid progress on standards, which need to soon be implemented, and revised.
The first 16 standards are standards pulled from some of the major smart grid players including Zigbee, HomePlug, and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, which are standards already in play in the industry and will be pretty easily adopted.
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