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Cisco has made the smart grid a primary focus for the company, and has determined that they want to be the leader when it comes to technology used for managing electricity. They've identified over $20 billion in potential opportunities for businesses, from how information and energy is managed by utilities and consumers alike. And according to Cisco, the smart grid is going to be a bigger market than the Internet. Check out what Cisco's smart grid guru Laura Ipsen has to say about how the smart grid is the next really, really big thing for technology.
Many consider the smart grid to be the next big oil (though it'll have to compete with water for that title). Despite the possible opportunities, many in the industry feel that there's the potential for an investment bubble, since so much money is being poured into the emerging grid without a whole heck of a lot of direction. However, there's no question that the smart grid is on its way, even if it feels like progress is slow - after all, energy efficiency is on the tips of everyone's tongue and we need the smart grid to be truly efficient with our energy.
That's why even the biggest players in the Internet - Microsoft and Google - have both jumped in with both feet. If the smart grid will be bigger than the internet, then these two companies may have it made, though Google insists it's merely exploring right now, and not looking for monetizeable business opportunities.
The biggest problem facing tech-oriented companies looking to make a mint off the smart grid might be convincing utilities that they need, want, and have to implement the technologies being developed. Utilities are slow to latch on to everything from hardware to interfaces connecting them to the consumers, which makes it difficult to get pilot programs and new systems in place, let alone make any money off of them.