GTM Research’s Soft Grid 2012 report lays out key players and trends in collecting, analyzing and acting on smart grid data.
The tens of billions of dollars of smart grid technology being deployed across the world is going to create a huge amount of data -- and that means that building the tools to collect, understand and act on that data is going to be a billion-dollar-plus business in its own right.
In fact, the U.S. market for smart grid analytics is set to grow from about $322.5 million this year to $1.4 billion by 2020, according to GTM Research’s report released this week, The Soft Grid 2013-2020: Big Data & Utility Analytics for Smart Grid.
That’s a combined total of $8.2 billion over the next eight years expected to be spent on the hardware, software and technical and business expertise needed to bring the U.S. smart grid into the mainstream of IT and big data. Much of it is being forced on utilities struggling to manage the massive flood of data coming from smart meters and other grid devices being deployed in the millions across the country.
But there’s also plenty of money flowing from venture capital investors, corporate investors and government-industry partnerships into the next generation of big data intelligence for the smart grid. After all, one of the key goals of analytics is to discover insights that have previously been obscured by a lack of data, and then to devise ways to act on those insights to save energy and money -- or even create new markets and business models.
So what are the top trends for smart grid data analytics in 2013? We’ve been covering the soft grid in depth for some time now, but GTM Research’s new report lays out some key findings:
1) Unstructured data is a major challenge, and tools like Hadoop and NoSQL architectures -- and companies that know how to use them for the smart grid -- will find willing customers. Examples of smart grid companies leveraging Hadoop include home energy analysis and efficiency startup Opower, utility-to-home-energy-management startup Tendril and the cloud-based, home-thermostat-optimizing technology of EcoFactor, to name a few.Companies like Versant and AutoGrid are building smart grid applications on top of their unstructured data analytics software platforms built out of the latest developments from the telecommunications and finance IT sectors, for instance.
In the meantime, IT giants like Oracle, IBM, EMC and Microsoft are promising unstructured data-ready platforms using Hadoop, though they’re not known for using open-source tools. That could mean acquisitions -- Oracle just bought big-data startup DataRaker, and Teradata, which is working closely with partners like Southern California Edison and Itronon smart meter data management, bought big-data startup Aster Data in 2011. Expect that big players in business analytics like SAS, IBM and SAP, all of which have utility and energy customers, will be watching the field closely as well.