Monday, January 30, 2012
New smart grid project presents major challenges, immense potential
A new smart grid program recently announced for Great Britain will see approximately 53 million smart meters installed within the region. The GB Smart Metering Implementation Program offers significant potential when it comes to improving utility infrastructure and providing consumers with key information to better regulate their power consumption, but it also presents major IT challenges that could derail the ambitious effort before it takes off, Computer Weekly reported.
The plan calls for million smart meters to be installed in both commercial and residential settings between now and 2019. The end result of this effort would be a more efficient network that allows businesses and consumers to operate more sustainably. On a larger scale, this would see the United Kingdom's carbon footprint fall dramatically.
The problem is that the IT infrastructure needed to support smart grid is so complex and challenging to deploy that many lack faith in the government to handle the project, and could see it falling apart before its conclusion.
Margaret Hodge, chair of the committee of public accounts, told the news source that the ambitious idea of installing 53 million smart meters to reach almost all homes and businesses in the country offers staggering potential. But the obstacles involved in the process are so significant that there is some uncertainty surrounding the smart grid project.
"There are obvious risks in implementing such a large IT project which cannot be ignored. They include the practical difficulties of procuring and installing the data communications service and the security of the information held. The [organization behind the smart grid deployment] must take on board the lessons learned from other large government IT projects to make sure that the system can support smart grids and that extra costs are not passed on to consumers," Hodge told the news source.
The security and infrastructure-related challenges associated with smart grid are substantial, but a growing number of utility organizations are looking at these issues as problems that must be overcome, not road blocks to adoption. Smart grid's benefits are so substantial that utility providers around the world are investing in the technology and many experts agree 2012 will be a year of major growth in terms of smart grid spending.
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