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Integrating the various forms of renewable energy into our complex patterns of transmission, distribution and consumption is nothing less than a monumental transformation.
On the other hand, the industry is making great strides, and new smart grid technologies are playing a vital role.
According to a recent report, smart grid technologies that help integrate renewable-energy sources are at the forefront of the nation’s rapidly evolving system for distributing power over the grid. Pike Research, a Boulder, Colo.-based global clean-technologies market research firm, describes the market for this technology as “the vanguard of a new business model,” in its report, “Smart Grid Renewables Integration.” The report projects revenue from smart grid renewables integration to more than triple, from $3.8 billion in 2012 to just under $13 billion in 2018.
So far, much of the investment in renewable-power integration has been at the transmission level, but these technologies are not considered as “smart grid.” However, the report finds that distribution-level smart grid technologies are leading the market.
Pike concedes that, to date, the success of integration efforts has been mixed, but strong growth for this market is in the future, if not inevitable. According to senior research analyst Peter Asmus, “The fundamental architecture of today’s electricity grid—based on the idea of a top-down system predicated on unidirectional energy flows—is becoming obsolete and is unsuited for the increasing diversity and variability of power generation.”