The Smart Grid in 2010: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know

July 28, 2009

One of the biggest challenges to understanding new technologies can be the lack of centralized and credible information readily available. Such is the problem with the Smart Grid – that buzz word concept being tossed around by cleantech companies in the Bay area to policy analysts in Washington. But what does it mean?

Last week, I stumbled upon a report from David Leeds of GTM Research entitled “The Smart Grid in 2010: Market Segments, Applications and Industry Players.” The report, a cool 145 pages, provides an in depth analysis of the smart grid end-to-end, identifying the key players, the overall technology, the market drivers and barriers to adoption. Being an information junkie like I am, I downloaded it and read almost half over the weekend. Mr. Leeds does an excellent job of providing a type of clarity not often found in research papers and I found it not only extremely readable, but interesting.

Some highlights:

  • About $1.3 billion in venture capital was invested in the Smart Grid sector in the last 4 years and $105 million just in the last 2 quarters of 2009
  • The electric grid remains one of the last networks not transformed by information technology (IT) and is arguably one of the furthest reaching and most extensive networks in existence.
  • The three biggest challenges facing the Smart Grid are: interoperability standards, utility business models that promote energy efficiency and proper development of systems architecture that can support enterprise-wide current and future applications.
  • Without a Smart Grid, renewable technologies will remain niche at best. The hopes for widespread adoption of renewables is non-existent without a smart grid to faciliate and integrate these variable generation sources.
  • The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) estimates that it will cost $165 billion over two decades to complete the evolution to a smart grid worldwide.

The report also details the major players in the various markets within the smart grid industry and includes our client, Control4 as a company to watch in the consumer energy management systems space. Control4 just announced $17.3 million in funding to develop its AMI (advanced metering infrastructure) business.

If you are involved or interested in this new intelligent utility system that promises to be a challenging and revolutionizing new infrastructure, this report is a must read.

Download here – kudos to Mr. Leeds and GTM Research for an excellent piece.

Posted by: Ashley / ashleyatcaster on Twitter

The K3: Versatile anywhere Charger

May 2, 2009

A new gadget that I really really really want! The K3 Charger from Kineses Industries would make life so much easier when your stuff needs to be charged. Its solar AND wind powered so you wont be stranded when its over cast, and it holds enough power to charge a cell phone five times. You can charge, cell phones, cameras, iPods, and iPhones. I love this because with car chargers you have the wire that gets in the way and  you can only charge it in your car, and cameras ALWAYS run out of power at the most inopportune times. This little thing is about the size of a flashlight and you can keep it in your purse or your glove box and it comes with various adaptors that are stored inside the device for super convenience. It probably cant be considered super green because of how its made, but when that camera shuts off while your taking a picture of big foot you’re going to wish you had it. (Thanks EcoGeek!)

Posted by: Ashley (intern)

Earth hour needs some better advertising

April 11, 2009

I was scrolling through CNET Green Tech and apparently this past Saturday night millions of people turned off all of their lights for one hour. Where was I? How did these millions know about it and I hadn’t heard so much as a fleeting reference to it? I totally would have done that! At 8:30 on March 28th people of all time zones turned off their lights to make a point about global warming and energy usage. They had a goal of one billion for this year and I plan on helping them spread the word for next year, because apparently Lil’ Rhody never got the message. I’ll start now: March 28th 2010 at 8:00! Turn out the lights for Earth hour!

Posted by: Ashley (intern)

Smart-grid delays for security beef up

April 4, 2009
Okay we’re gonna have to wait a while longer for these smart grids. Apparently hackers being able to sneak in and cause a major black out is a problem. Psh. I’m fine with a good ol’ practical joke every once in awhile! And who doesnt love to light the candles and try to read by firelight? Who cares if you get a migraine after the first page!? I say these cybersecurity experts need to loosen up and go with the flow.
Just Kidding. I’ll wait.
CNN reported that a hacker with an extra $500 bucks worth of the proper equipment lying around could potentially gain access and control over thousands of homes with smart meters. Said hacker could then mess around with those thousands of homes at once, causing a huge increase or decrease in power demand, throwing the system out of whack, and basically causing a huge ass black out. Not cool. So until they work out the kinks, smart grid is on hold. Which is a bummer because I really want to see the Google PowerMeter and now I have to wait even longer.
But dont worry too much, CNN also reports that the experts have been working hard and have made some decent head way at solving the issues.
Thanks CNET!
Posted by: Ashley (intern)

Happy Stress-Free Sleep-Filled Holiday Week

December 25, 2008

Caster wishes everyone out there a delightful, stress-free, calorie laden, sleep-filled holiday week.


My week will be filled with children hyped on sugar, grandparents, excitement, toys and for me, wine…lots of wine. Happy Holidays everyone, thanks for another great year.

posted by: KDL | visit me on Twitter: newscaster

Being Green & Going Crazy

November 22, 2008

Let’s face it – the person who coined the term green and used it to equivocate consumer products and helping the environment is a damn genius.  But it brings us back to a key point in this movement – the more I research, the more I’m realizing that green is less of a revolution and more of a giant marketing campaign.  Perhaps I sound very cynical – but here’s my point.  If companies like BP and DuPont can list themselves as “leaders of the green movement,” how can the movement hold any validity at all?  These are companies who were founded on the premise of super capitalism, not super conservation.  Nothing they have done in the decades they have been in business has even remotely helped the environment.  Al Gore does one moving documentary and suddenly everyone’s green?  I just don’t buy it.

This morning, on my quest to practice what I’ve been preaching, I changed a lot of lightbulbs in my home to CFLs.  Yes I realize these aren’t THE answer to saving the environment, but they do produce 2000 times less greenhouse gases as regular light bulbs and are proven energy savers.  I’ve got lamps in my house, I might as well NOT use a product that is extra wasteful, right?

I then examined the packaging these bulbs had come in.  They were your typical, heavy-duty, plastic containers that are almost impossible to open and require scissors and hedge trimmers to even crack the surface.  Huh.  Those can’t be very eco-friendly.  Even if I do tear apart the packaging, recycle the paper insert into my green bin and the plastic container from hell in the blue bin, how much was wasted in the production of this package?

Part of the problem with knowledge is that you find yourself examining things in a way you never thought you would and feeling frustrated at the layers you must dig through to find some actual truth.  It’s similar to the way I felt the semester following my first film class in college.  I stopped being able to watch movies with the sort of mindless abandon that I had previously enjoyed.  I was analyzing each frame, each shot, the plot, the characters, the dialogue.  It was exhausting.

Do we expect all consumers to think this deeply about their green choices?  Or is the label “green” enough for some people to feel good about saving the planet?  What do we do if the green revolution isn’t green at all?

Posted by: Ashley / ashleyatcaster


November 7, 2008

Every day more and more people are buying new electronics. Consumers tend to purchase a new laptop every 3 years and typically only hold on to a cell phone for 24 months. TVs (especially with the DTV transition just around the corner) are constantly being upgraded and discarded. But what happens to your electronics when you are ready to move on? Chances are you put them by the curb and the nice trash-man or “curb shopper” will take them out of your sight and never think of them again. But where do they go?

When electronics are just tossed, they end up in our already overflowing landfills, never to be used again. With the prominence of recycling and eco-conscious consumers, we are looking for better ways to get rid of our old electronics. How many times have you thrown out a computer or TV that still works, just needs a little TLC? Ever think that a local school or charity may be able to use it? When you recycle your electronics you give them a second chance to help others. Most electronics that are recycled are refurbished and reused. If the equipment is beyond repair, it can be disassembled and parts can be used on other products.

Recycling electronics isn’t only good for the environment, it is also a do-good deed for others in your community. Next time you are looking to get rid of some of your old electronics, don’t throw them to the curb. Go to the Telecommunications Industry Association’s E-Cycling website to find a local drop off center for your electronics.

Posted by: Lauren