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The enterprise needs its own smart grid

By Donna Donnawitz
April 20, 2012
For utility departments, the smart grid is serving as a technological replacement for century-old infrastructure that has been left untouched by innovation for much of that time. Think about that, the bulk of the technologies dictating how utility providers deliver power have not changed substantially since electricity first began being delivered at commercial scale. Sure, there have been plenty of minor advances and maturation of utility elements, but no systemic changes. The smart grid is such a shift.

At its core, smart grid is so powerful because it allows utility providers to better track energy consumption. Currently, the technology is set up, for the most part, to serve the actual utility company and residential customers who can go out to their smart meter and check on how they are using power. But large businesses cannot do this, especially as most enterprise-class organizations operate in multiple geographically disparate offices that provide a diverse range of functions. Because of this, a recent study from Groom Energy and GTM Research surmises that businesses essentially need their own smart grid.

As utility providers use network infrastructure in conjunction with smart meters and similar technologies to gain a transparent view of power delivery over the entire system, businesses need to establish a similar infrastructure within their own offices. Essentially, this amounts to putting smart meters on each branch office and data center. Combining that with advanced power usage metrics and network infrastructure, organizations can create their own smart grids and use the technology to track how much power they require at any time. This allows for better capacity planning and lets the organization develop strategies to improve efficiency and cut energy costs. Visibility is especially important as more organizations work to implement sustainability plans. It can be difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of energy conservation efforts without clear feedback on power distribution. The enterprise smart grid could be the answer.

Smart grid technology is also enabling greater efficiency by allowing for more use of renewable energy resources. Solar, wind and other prominent forms of power delivery are not really equipped for data center and enterprise requirements because they struggle to consistently perform at scale. Smart grid, however, can track how much electricity is used at any time, storing any excess energy within the network for later deployment. This makes renewable resources more viable in consumer, commercial and industrial settings, adding to the broad efficiency gains that come with smart grid.

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