Sunday, May 17, 2009

Cisco Outlines "Smart Grid" Strategy

Cisco outlined its plan to deliver an end-to-end, highly secure network infrastructure solution for the "Smart Grid". The goal is to establish an intelligent, two-way IP communications network extending from electrical generation into businesses and homes. This is expected to result in greater energy conservation, lower greenhouse gas emissions and innovative end-user services.

Cisco's Smart Grid solutions will address critical points within the energy infrastructure: from data centers and substations, through neighborhood-area networks, to businesses and homes. In addition, Cisco will provide solutions for IP-based backhaul communications for smart meters that will integrate proprietary solutions into the overall smart grid platform. Cisco also plans to deliver Home Energy Management and Business Energy Management solutions to help optimize energy demand, use and cost by providing greater access to data and analysis tools.

Cisco is already working with utility providers and their customers to monitor electricity utilization, optimize energy delivery, reduce energy usage and cost, improve system security, and lessen their impact on the environment.

Cisco estimates the growing Smart Grid communications infrastructure market will reach $20 billion annually over five years.

Some other facts cited by Cisco:

  • Electricity outages cost U.S. industry about $50 billion per year, according to EPRI (Electrical Power Research Institute).

  • A Smart Grid will significantly reduce the impact of these outages in the future and will also reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 60 to 211 million metric tons of CO2 annually in 2030, according to EPRI estimates.

  • Various pilots including one sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest Laboratory have shown a 10-15 percent reduction in household energy consumption when Smart Grid technologies are used.

  • The GridWise Alliance, of which Cisco is a member, estimates that Smart Grid incentives and investments as encouraged by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, will generate approximately 280,000 direct jobs across various categories.

"Networking technology will serve as the platform of a smart, more secure energy grid for the 21st century. Cisco is uniquely positioned to provide a converged Smart Grid communications fabric and to assist our utility customers with the kind of business transformation that will enable the efficient, effective transmission of energy and deliver entirely new, environmentally-friendly services to consumers," John Chambers, chairman and CEO, Cisco.