Archive for the ‘Cisco’ Category

The U.S. smart grid is set to boom by 2015

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

The U.S. smart grid is set to boom by 2015, growing to a $9.6 billion market with smart-grid management services generating $4.3 billion in revenue, according to separate reports from GTM Research and Pike Research.
The smart-grid market in the United States will grow 70 percent to $9.6 billion by 2015, according to a Sept. 24 forecast from GTM Research analyst David Leeds. The market research company currently pegs the market at $5.6 billion.

The term smart grid refers to a next-generation electricity delivery network designed to monitor household and business consumption and automate control mechanisms. Rather than depending on a single technology, smart grids consist of a web of networks allowing real-time communication between users and power providers.

The expansion will be driven by federal grants for utility modernization, competition between utilities companies and investments in smart-grid technology by large IT companies, according to GTM Research. For example, utilities can submit their plans and budgets for approved smart-grid projects by Sept. 30 to qualify for a share of the $3.4 billion in federal stimulus grants.

GTM Research analysts calculated the 2015 forecast by compiling outlooks in four core technology sectors: advanced metering infrastructure, distributionautomation, home area networks and smart utility enterprise.

“Over the next 10 to 15 years, GTM Research expects the distinction between ‘smart grid’ and traditional grids to dissolve,” Leeds said.

The smart grid is not just about adding communications capabilities to the electricity grid. It also requires integrating back-end utility systems so that companies can analyze the data being generated and act accordingly, he said. With business intelligence in place, smart grids can adjust supply for a specific area based on demand and time of the day, reroute the distribution path if there is a problem in a section of the grid, and support new applications, such as renewable and electric transportation.

GTM Research analysts estimated that large-scale deployment and integration would cost about $165 billion.

Since the deployment timeline is about 20 years, according to the report, full penetration is still decades away. Even so, utility companies are increasing investment in advanced metering infrastructure, such as smart meters, energy displays and appliance controls. These projects will allow utilities to move away from flat-rate billing to variable rates depending on usage and let consumers adjust their usage patterns accordingly, the report said. It also predicted that smart-meter deployments would reach 48 percent nationwide by 2015.

Utility companies are not the only ones looking at this market: Some of the biggest names in technology are building smart-grid offerings. Cisco Systemshas an extensive line of energy-monitoring devices, routers and management software, such as the Cisco Network Building Mediator, which tells managers how much power is being used by elevators, heating and cooling systems in a building. IBM offers consulting, design and implementation services to utilities companies, while Intel has been working on IEEE standards for smart-grid technologies.

A separate report released by Pike Research on Sept. 22 predicts that utilities companies will depend on outside experts to deploy, manage and maintain these grids. Global spending on smart-grid management services is expected to grow to $821 million in 2011, up from $470 million this year. Smart-grid management services alone will generate $4.3 billion in revenues by 2015, according to the report.

While there are economic benefits to improving electricity distribution, the growing popularity of electrical transportation is a bigger driver for smart-grid investment, according to both market research companies. The number of plug-in cars and trucks in the United States is expected to reach 841,000 by the end of 2015, Pike Research said.

GTM Research identified systems integration and data managementsolutions as additional areas of investment.

“The day is quickly approaching when the bulk of new hardware, software and systems added to grids will be intelligent,” said GTM Research’s Leeds.

OpenGate – Targets Hot Spots for Switches

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

By: Rich Miller

A diagram of the new SwitchAir cooling solution for network equipment from OpenGate Data.

Data center cooling specialist Opengate Data Systems today introduced a new cooling product focused on addressing “hot spots” associated with networking equipment. SwitchAir Network Switch Cooling Solutions was developed to provide in-rack cooling support for high-density network switches, which can present cooling challenges as data center operators run their facilities at warmer temperatures to improve energy efficiency.

High switch port density has led many data center operators to position network switches facing the rear of rack to simplify network cabling. Due to the high switch port density, intake air typically enters at the sides of the switch chassis and heat exhausts out the rear or out the other side of the network switch chassis. SwitchAir enables rear rack mounted network switches to receive the required cool air from outside the rack, which is delivered to the network switch via the channels alongside the switch.

Raising the temperature in a data center environment can help save on energy used for air handlers and the chiller plant. “While this is good news for data center efficiency gains, it can wreak havoc on the stability of network operations,” said OpenGate.

1U or 2U Configurations
SwitchAir is avilable in either 1U or 2U configurations. The 1U model was developed in coordination with Oracle, and has reduced the temperature of their rear rack-mounted Cisco 4948 switch temperatures between 18-20 degrees C. OpenGate says another unnamed “prominent IT equipment manufacturer” helped finalize design details while field testing the SwitchAir 2U.

The SwitchAir 1U is specific to Cisco 4948 gear, while the SwitchAir 2U is universal and will cool up to two switches, allowing the stacking of switches with varying airflow patterns. One key prerequisite: the switch fans must have adequate airflow to support the side channel cooling approach.

Connecting Smart Buildings to the Smart Grid

Friday, November 20th, 2009


Suggesting turning off the lights in our buildings has been a constant theme. Saving or conserving energy, especially when the cleaning crew and security personnel are the only ones occupying a 250,000 sq ft office tower, makes sense at a very basic level. You would think that a simple concept such as conserving energy in our built environment would be easy to deploy. Given that energy, and thus our independence, is on everyone’s mind, combined with the fact that buildings use 40+% of the total daily energy spend, one would expect it to be a high priority.

Over the years engineers have introduced a number of different ideas, concepts and technologies that would help building owners conserve energy. Even to this day, adoption of these “common sense” ideas have been met with great resistance. In trying to better understand why this remains such a low priority I’ve summarized the common client drivers  / observations:

1) during the boom times, making money trumped every other priority,

2) in many situations tenants paid the utility bills and the landlord had no motivation to conserve,

3) real estate companies have struggled with “who” in their organization should take responsibility for this issue (IT,PM,FM,Energy),

4) while executives promoted “green” for marketing purposes, commitment and execution was superficial and

5) many of these technologies involve CAPEX or in some cases initial impacts to OPEX investments and without the motivation of a “return”, never made it past the budgeting process.

There have been bursts of interest in this topic by the built environment over the last 5-7 years. In fact there are case studies of real estate companies who have implemented sophisticated technology solutions to monitor and manage their energy consumption with a much greater level of accuracy. Over the last 24-30 months, many of our trade associations have also joined in the battle to conserve and begun to aggressively educate their memberships on conserving energy. While all of these “green” initiatives have been positive, there has been little discussion on the role that technology, automation and innovation can play. While insulated windows an important part of the strategy so is a lighting strategy that can reduce energy costs by 50%.

Enter the Smart Grid discussion.

About 2-3 years ago the discussion of the Smart Grid started to heat up. Major companies like GE, IBM, Siemens and, most recently Cisco and Google, started to beat the drum on the benefits of being able to manage electricity in more sophisticated ways. Instead of producing power in big old clunky power plants and “broadcasting” the energy down very old “asynchronous” (one way) power lines, the idea has emerged of a “networked”, very smart, easy to manage electrical infrastructure that connects both your refrigerator to the network as well as the solar panel or wind turbine that you have in your backyard or the roof of your office building. The idea is big, the benefits are big, the issues are big, and so are the challenges. While the marketing of many of these large smart grid companies would lead you to believe that the technology is in place and everything has been figured out, there are a mountain of questions ranging from privacy issues to standards and everything in between.

One of those big issues to be figured out is how to we “connect” a smart building to the smart grid and what if we’re starting with a building that is not so smart. One of the most basic questions that need to be answered is “who in a building takes charge of this issue.” Buildings have many number of different tenant landlord relationships, from owner occupied to multi-tenant. The relationship in many cases will influence who takes the lead on this important topic. Once the “business” side of the equation is figured out, then you move to the building technology and ultimately the relationship with the smart grid. These are very big questions and in many respects are the primary reasons that so many building owners have not initiated an energy plan. The other major reasons for slow response to this issue is the maturity of the technology (still evolving) and the regulatory role of local, and national government agencies.

If you break the smart grid into three distinct categories it is a little easier to understand.

We have the:

1) “middle infrastructure” i.e. the transmission lines, sub-stations etc.,

2) the power plants – both traditional as well as the emerging technologies, and

3) the end user, which in our world translates to the building.

These make up the major components of the smart grid. When we isolate the building’s role it’s easy to understand why this is such a complex issue. It’s not only the connectivity of the building to the smart grid, but also the internal infrastructure of the building that needs to be automated in order to create a completely digital, transparent connection. Connecting a building to the smart grid without considering the tenant space will leave you with less than desired results. The topic gets even more complex when you consider all the other building technologies that need to be considered for integration into the building network such as security, tenant communications etc. at the same time you are trying to figure out the connectivity into the smart grid for the purpose energy management and conservation.

The benefits of the smart grid begin to get very interesting when you start talking about how a commercial building owner could gain financially from this concept. Just imagine you’re at 30,000 feet looking down on a major city and picture all the buildings being turned into individual solar and other renewable energy source power plants that could sell unused energy back to utilities via smart grid technologies. There are some who have speculated that this could be a significant income stream for owners and operators once the idea is adequately developed.


The bottom line is that the idea of smart buildings connecting to the smart grid is an idea whose time has come. Whether adoption is fueled by financial opportunities or by strict legislation, this idea is not going away. In the early stages, as with all new technologies and ideas, there are more questions than answers. However, last week’s announcement by the US Obama administration on their 3.2 billion dollar commitment to the smart grid is sure to advance the topic and produce real results.


The question remains how will BUILDINGS CONNECT to the SMART GRID, with technology companies developing products and exploring this new major industry (as it will become). Which company will become the brand leader, but even more important is which real estate owners will become the  known  to champion this technology, and get an competitive edge on its rivals.

Cisco Systems Partners with Duke Energy to Develop & Implement Smart Grid Technology

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

CHARLOTTE, N.C. –Duke Energy announced it will join forces with Cisco Systems Inc., the world’s largest network communications company, to fast-track development of Duke Energy’s state-of-the-art electric “smart grid.” The two companies will jointly evaluate a variety of smart grid communications hardware and software, and oversee installation and testing of selected equipment and software throughout Duke Energy’s electric grid.In addition, Cisco will work with Duke Energy to develop and install home energy management devices to help customers control and reduce their electricity consumption.

Todd Arnold, senior vice president for smart grid and customer systems at Duke Energy, America’s third-largest electric utility.

“Our goal is to rapidly transform the way electricity is delivered to, and used by, the 11 million people we serve in five states.Partnering with Cisco is central to Duke Energy’s plan to build an ‘energy internet’ that will improve electricity delivery, strengthen grid security, lessen our company’s environmental impact, and help customers reduce their electricity usage.”

The three-year partnership is the latest development in Duke Energy’s effort to rapidly convert its existing electricity delivery infrastructure into an advanced smart grid that uses two-way digital communication to reduce energy usage, improve efficiency, bolster system reliability, detect power outages, and integrate solar and other renewable energy sources into the electric grid.

Cisco Systems, working closely with Duke Energy, will develop a highly refined, end-to-end, smart grid communications architecture – one that both companies believe will be among the most comprehensive and interoperable in the electric utility industry.

The newly created architecture will be based on what the industry calls “internet protocol-based open standards” – an approach that permits easy accommodation of new and emerging communications technology as it becomes available in future years.

Marthin De Beer, senior vice president and general manager ofCisco’s Emerging Technologies Group;

“Internet protocol-based open standards are key to creating a smart, highly-secure backbone for the nation’s modern electrical grid. The two companies also will test a new generation of durable, weather-proof communications equipment designed for use at Duke Energy’s electric substations.”

Replacing our analog electric grid with advanced digital technology to create a 21st century electricity delivery system largely involves data, networks and communications – all of it Cisco’s expertise,” Arnold said.

In Ohio, Duke Energy later this year will launch a five-year mass deployment of smart grid technology, including more than 700,000 electric smart meters and 450,000 natural gas smart meters.

In Indiana, Duke Energy is seeking approval from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to install extensive smart grid technology, including approximately 800,000 smart meters.

Duke Energy announced it had reached a settlement agreement with the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor and key consumer and business groups regarding the company’s Indiana smart grid proposal.

In addition to smart meters, Duke Energy plans to install a large amount of distribution automation – both hardware and software – to improve system efficiency and reliability on its electric grid in both Indiana and Ohio.

The company also is laying the groundwork to bring large-scale smart grid technology to three other states it serves – North Carolina, South Carolina and Kentucky.

“Working with innovative industry leaders like Duke Energy, Cisco will deliver an end-to-end network infrastructure from power plant to customer in order to manage electricity supply and consumption both efficiently and in an environmentally responsible manner,” said Cisco’s De Beer.