Study: Many smart grid implementation opportunities remain untapped

July 10, 2012

The increased use of smart meters in the U.S. has provided American utilities and companies with unprecedented amounts of data – 18,000 percent more data to be specific – but this uptick in knowledge has yet to lead to any significant change in energy use.

Greentech Media reported that smart grids represent an opportunity for the U.S. to cut energy consumption and control costs associated with electricity, but an Oracle survey found that many utilities are struggling to put the data collected from these meters to use.

While 78 percent of the survey respondents noted that their utilities were collecting data related to outage detection from their smart meters, only 59 percent of those surveyed noted that they were actually using it for decision making and business processes.

According to the news outlet, similar numbers were reported for voltage data, tamper detection data and diagnostic data, as gaps of 16 percent, 16 percent and 23 percent, respectively, were reported.

However, this is likely to change once companies begin to learn more about how to use this data effectively. Utilities are also increasingly deploying these devices and systems, as 65 percent of the respondents rolled out smart meters to at least three-quarters of their customers.

This type of technology is beginning to impact the commercial real estate landscape, as companies and property owners are looking to use new products and practices to create more energy efficient buildings.

The U.S. government is supporting this industry change, as the Department of Energy designated an innovation Hub to help spread knowledge about efficient practices and products.

The Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (EEB Hub) is a consortium of institutions from academia, government, the energy development industry and the private sector that is working to enact a change in the commercial real estate market in Philadelphia.

Certain components of buildings, such as HVAC systems, have been targeted by this effort and other energy efficient pushes as one area in which dramatic improvements can be made.

According to a release from the Carrier Institute, HVAC systems currently account for an average of 40 percent of a building's energy use, a number that can be dramatically reduced.

"The ability to achieve higher levels of energy efficiency is driving engineers to adopt new HVAC systems, equipment and controls in their building designs," said Chris Nelson, president, residential and commercial systems, Carrier.