With the roll out of smart meters and other smart grid technologies, utilities are now being flooded with data about the energy consumption of their customers that they weren't really able to see before. This data can help utilities to improve their services, improve the efficiency of power delivery to their customers and to come up with energy and cost saving initiatives that are a benefit to the customers and the utilities themselves.
Luckily, many companies have started offering software that helps utilities to process and analyze all of that data into something they can understand and work with and, according to a new report by Greentech Media called "The Soft Grid 2013-2020: Big Data & Utility Analytics for Smart Grid," those services are where smart grid spending is headed. The report predicts that utilities in the U.S. alone will spend $1.4 billion on smart grid analytics annually by 2020 and for good reason. The return on investment for these services is expected to be about six times what is spent in that time frame.
The report states:
With the introduction of big data and analytics to the utility industry, the potential of smart grid has shifted dramatically from the original aim of adding a myriad of new applications toward a complete re-invention of the utility business. We are now moving into a market where the spotlight will be on the data analytics software that will allow utilities to track, visualize and predict -- the core elements of what GTM Research calls, The Soft Grid.
In terms of market adoption, GTM Research forecasts cumulative global spending on smart-grid-related analytics to top $20.6 billion between the years 2012 and 2020, with an annual spend of $3.8 billion globally in the year 2020. We estimate that for utilities deploying these technologies, the achieved return on this investment will exceed $121.8 billion globally over the same nine-year time period.
Smart grid software will be an increasingly important part of creating a better, more secure and more efficient grid, and it looks like utilities are getting that message in a big way.