The U.S. electric grid is outdated and in need of an overhaul. Parts of the infrastructure are nearly 100 years old, and are unable to keep up with increasing energy demands.
Moreover, the existing grid is unable to keep up with the amount of power generated from renewable resources. A solution to this dire energy situation is the smart grid, which utilizes digital technology to deliver more reliable energy to consumers from multiple sources for less.
The ecological and economic benefits of a smart grid are significant. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, if the existing grid was only 5 percent more efficient, “the energy savings would equate to permanently eliminating the fuel and greenhouse gas emissions from 53 million cars.”
Around the world, the smart grid is being touted and adopted by utilities as a solution to energy independence and global warming issues.
While the existing grid sends power one way, from power utility to customer, the smart grid is a two-way system that enables homeowners to maximize their energy efficiency. As a result, smart grid solutions offer considerable environmental and economic benefits to consumers, such as the ability to schedule the use of appliances at non-peak hours when power is more affordable.
Web and mobile apps allow consumers to track their energy usage in real time, and smart grid power can be optimized for the efficient charging of electric cars. Making clear economic sense, smart grid solutions have been successfully deployed by power utilities in a number of states.
In a GigaOm interview, Eric Dresselhuys, executive vice president and CMO of Silver Spring Networks, notes that the clear value proposition of smart grids is driving this adoption. “There are great successes in places like Florida, Oklahoma, and Ohio, not exactly the places you'd think of as the hubs of green innovation,” says Dresselhuys. “The consumer value proposition has been brought more forward and there's been better communication effort to help people understand why we're doing this, what we're getting out of it and the things it enables. I think people get it if we take the time to explain it and show them where it takes us.”
Silver Spring Networks offers power utilities a suite of hardware, software and services that bring the grid into the 21st century. Their products connect to every device on the grid, creating a wireless network between devices that can be customized to each specific utility’s needs and existing infrastructure.
Using an intelligent network infrastructure, Silver Spring’s devices create a secure, self-configuring mesh network that ensures ubiquitous coverage at any scale. Over this network, utilities can deploy Advanced Metering to get actionable data on energy efficiency programs, Demand Response programs which optimize energy efficiency by reducing peak load, and improve the efficiency and reliability of their services with Distribution Automation.
A smart grid requires equally intelligent data warehousing and analytics solutions. Silver Spring’s data warehousing needs are ever-growing--the company has deployed smart grid products and solutions to utilities that serve 20 percent of all U.S. customers, with many more utilities customers worldwide.
As Silver Spring’s installation base increases, as does their need for a data warehousing and analytics platform that enables them to gain better insight and value from their data. By switching to Greenplum’s Enterprise Data Cloud solutions, Silver Spring was able to replace their costly, existing hardware backend and reap the benefits of Greenplum’s magnetic, agile and deep analytics.
Using a mix of on premise and SaaS Greenplum products, Silver Spring is able to offer utilities more reliable and efficient smart grid products and services. In addition, the switch to Greenplum has enabled Silver Spring to generate new revenue sources for the company by offering enhanced analytics tools to utilities that provide insight into how customers are using energy.
As their smart grid products and solutions are deployed to an increasing number of utilities around the world, managing an ever-growing amount of data is one of Silver Spring’s top priorities. Greenplum provides Silver Spring with an agile Enterprise Data Cloud solution that scales with the speed and efficiency the smart grid demands.
"To bring our clients an integrated view of energy consumption across their service territories, we have to evaluate massive amounts of data," said Dresselhuys. "Greenplum’s data warehousing and analytics platform helps us efficiently turn metering data into actionable information."