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Is renewable energy a priority for smart grid integration?

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Giving renewable resources a more integral role in smart grid systems will promote sustainability and create a market niche for alternative energy integration.

If you think 'smart grid', then a number of features come to mind. From connecting electricity providers to consumers and monitoring energy flow to harnessing the technology for transport networks, the overall objective of smart grids is to improve the efficiency, reliability and sustainability of devices that rely on electricity.

If the efficiency of devices is improved, it stands to reason that energy is saved. In this manner, we could expect the integration of renewable energy sources to be a priority for companies who develop smart grid technology. However in reality, this area is often neglected -- whereas the connection of consumer and electricity firms claims top priority.

According to a new report released by Pike Research, as the focus on energy sources shifts to renewables -- often due to the rising prices of fossil fuels and a shortage of available stock originating from the West -- the situation is likely to change.

If renewable energy sources are given a more integral role in smart grid systems, then not only may it promote the use of sustainable sources, but will also crack open a niche in the market that focuses on the integration of alternative energy.

The Pike research report suggests that revenue forecasts will reach almost $4 billion in the smart grid industry by the end of this year, and will reach $13 billion in the next five years. The compound annual growth rate is expected to be approximately 23 percent.

Senior analyst Peter Asmus said:

"The success record of smart grid renewables integration to date is a mixed bag. European countries are boldly plowing forward while many U.S. utilities exhibit 'electrotrophobia' -- the fear of change linked to greater reliance upon intermittent renewable energy resources.

That will change as many utilities launch comprehensive programs and place significant investments in the ability of the smart grid to lower the costs of integrating renewable generation at the transmission, distribution, and residential levels."

Microgrids are made up of small networks of electricity generators. They are expected to become a crucial part of the integration of sustainable energy sources. This will account for 81 percent of the predicted market revenue growth in the smart grid sector, or $3 billion in total.

In 2018, microgrids are expected to account for 77 percent of revenue worldwide, and will be the most important tool for the distribution of solar and wind power. As other reports have previously suggested, the Asia-Pacific region shows the most active development of smart grid technology.


Image credit: CNET

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Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure