18 Oct 2010

Smart Grid Means Different Things to Different Cultures

Written by Jim Pierobon

Perspectives converging at this week’s GridWeek 2010 conference in Washington, DC illustrate that a smarter grid means different things to different peoples. And therein lies a sizable challenge to vendors who operate on different continents: focus on the goals of each country’s leaders and deliver them while being sure to communicate their benefits to consumers.

Paul Camuti of Siemens Energy Inc. sees different priorities in Europe, the U. S. and China. In Europe it’s about integrating renewable sources of electricity such as solar and wind energy; in the U.S., energy efficiency is the leading driver; and in China it’s mostly about building out the nation’s electric infrastructure to serve a rapidly growing population and economy.

‘”It’s a pretty big umbrella and we can learn from each other,” Camuti said. He spotlighted the responsibilities vendors, utilities and governments have of working “across the globe to take the best (technologies) of what’s available.”

George Arnold, the National Coordinator of Smart Grid Interoperability at the U.S. National Institutes of Standards and Technology, implored industry to adopt common standards and that it is not as difficult as some may believe. “The laws of physics don’t change from country to country,” he said.

Camuti underscored the need to get it right the first time before moving forward. He said we need “to get the first proof of principle behind us so we can accelerate deployment.”

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