This analysis of the GTM Innovation Awards is from GTM Research's latest report, The Networked Grid 150: The End-to-End Smart Grid Vendor Ecosystem Report and Rankings 2013. For more information on the report, click here.
At GTM Research, we track hundreds of companies across the smart grid landscape, paying particular attention to smart grid product portfolios, market positioning and the likelihood of growth and sustainability for companies. In 2013, having ranked top vendors according to our methodology, we also pay special tribute to some products and services that we believe are leading the market.
As smart grid technologies and solutions become more sophisticated, vendors are increasingly competing on innovation. Furthermore, there is increasing demand from utilities and customers for products that provide tangible ROIs, require minimal customization efforts and can easily be integrated into core operations. Products and services that receive the GTM Innovation Award fit the bill in all of these categories and provide a valuable piece of infrastructure or service to utilities on their journey to creating a smarter grid.
We awarded one product innovation award to the major market segments in the GTM Smart Grid taxonomy; communications, applications, consulting, security and soft grid. All of these solutions are seen as best-in-class from a product roadmap, integration and performance perspective.
Here are the eleven products that were awarded GTM Innovation Awards across the energy value chain:
FIGURE: GTM Innovation Award Taxonomy
Source: The Networked Grid 150
Product: Cisco 1000 Series Connected Grid Routers
Cisco 1000 Series Connected Grid Routers are multiservice communications platforms designed for use in field area networks. The routers are modular and support a variety of communications interfaces, such as WiMAX, second- and third-generation (2G and 3G) 900 MHz RF mesh, Ethernet, and Wi-Fi. Multiservice features include IPv6, advanced routing, IP Multicast, and quality of service. A critical feature of the Connected Grid technology is that information from advanced meter infrastructure, distribution automation systems and security controllers can be delivered over a common networked platform, extending the value beyond metering/AMI and into the distribution grid/substation. We are seeing the product gain traction in the marketplace with several key deployments, including BC Hydro, National Grid and China Light and Power Hong Kong.
Company: eMeter (a Siemens business)
Product: EnergyIP MDM and Meter Data Analytics Platform
For some time, eMeter has been a proponent of extracting additional value from existing AMI deployments. However, for many utilities, the idea of compromising the meter-to-cash process by running complicated and sophisticated analysis in-situ in the meter data management system (MDMS) would be untenable. Fortunately, eMeter’s analytics platform can run these functions without compromising basic billing functionality. Furthermore, the foundation analytics platform can be implemented using other MDM vendor platforms, making the platform truly device- and software-agnostic. The products offered by eMeter are highly scalable, as proven by deployments currently in place at large utilities around the world and by some key top-tier consulting partnerships.
Product: ENGO Platform
The Edge of Network Grid Optimization (ENGO) product is a power electronics-based voltage and reactive power control and monitoring system. The ENGO system enables distributed volt/VAR optimization on the low-voltage side of the secondary transformer. This is the first commercial launch of a distributed power electronics-based power quality and waveform control solution. The solution reduces the reaction time to inductance or high voltage conditions from the five minutes needed for a capacitor bank to re-energize or thirty seconds per tap adjustment for a voltage regulator to a fraction of a second, at a fraction of the cost of a distributed static VAR compensator.
Product: Hybrid HVDC Circuit Breaker
ABB’s Hybrid HVDC Circuit Breaker utilizes a two-path architecture to interrupt 1-gigawatt DC power flows. The solution begins by opening a small power electronics breaker, redirecting power over a larger main power electronics breaker while a mechanical breaker opens on the alternative path. Finally, the main breaker will open, and all of this transpires within five milliseconds. With the creation of this hybrid breaker, HVDC transmission lines can now be connected into DC grids enabling efficient and higher capacity transfer of power across greater distances. The new design reduces concerns with older breaker technology that incurred high energy losses, making the system too costly. An HVDC breaker provides a protection backbone to ensure an event on a particular line does not affect the overall power transmission system, while providing utilities with the ability to tap far-off generation assets and reducing the footprint of transmission lines through undersea and underground cabling.
Company: Xtreme Power
Product: Dynamic Power Resources
Xtreme Power’s Dynamic Power Resource is a fully integrated energy storage solution which utilizes a dry cell advanced lead acid battery chemistry. All of Xtreme’s systems are controllable via the company’s real-time control system (RTCS) which is composed of a web-based user interface, a SCADA system, and a data server. Today, Xtreme Power has deployed two of the largest battery systems in the world at Kahuku Wind Farm in Hawaii and more recently at Duke Energy’s 154-megawatt Notrees Wind Farm. However, the real promise of the company is the fact that it can provide integrated solutions which combine batteries with energy and power quality management and control systems that are suited to specific applications.
Product: Opower 4
Opower 4 is a customer engagement platform designed specifically for the utility industry, and is deployed around the globe, driving energy efficiency, demand response, smart grid acceptance, and customer affinity. Opower 4 is one of the only customer engagement platforms designed specifically for the utility industry. The analytics engine, based on Cloudera’s Hadoop infrastructure, supports Opower’s core competency of delivering behavioral feedback to energy customers to help them be more efficient. Established only six years ago, Opower is now processing data from more than 75 utilities in its Opower 4 platform and providing recommendations to utility customers that encourage them to reduce their energy consumption.
Building Area Networks
Product: The Sentilla Data Center Performance Management (DCPM)
We’ve seen a number of projects building the links to allow data centers to interact with the smart grid at large, such as Cisco’s project with NetApp and Pacific Gas & Electric, but offerings that provide the next level of data center energy optimization -- solutions that bring load concepts into play -- are far less common. Sentilla provides a unified view of the data center via its software. The Sentilla Inference Engine determines the power consumption and utilization of both metered and unmetered equipment, while the Sentilla Analysis Server provides the metrics for analyzing how the data center performs on a continuous basis. This instant visibility and continuous intelligence enable IT to know the net effect of asset utilization on capacity and cost. With this insight, Sentilla can make recommendations regarding how best to use and manage data center infrastructure.
Product: Demand Response Platform
Honeywell has traditionally been a hardware company, providing demand response and load-shedding capabilities through its smart thermostat product offering. However, in 2010, Honeywell acquired Akuacom and its automated demand response server technology and created a dedicated smart grid solutions segment. The company has also bolstered its portfolio over the past few years via partnerships with vendors like Opower and EnergyHub. A strong advocate of advancing the OpenADR standard on top of existing turnkey solutions, Honeywell has massive market global growth potential given its expertise in the building and energy management space.
Home Area Networks
Product: Xfinity Home Energy Control
Comcast’s Xfinity Home service is a broadband and cloud-based platform that can be extended for security, remote home control and energy management. In early 2012, Comcast partnered with EcoFactor to bring an automatic and real-time energy management solution to its customer base. EcoFactor’s patented cloud-based energy service analyzes a home’s specific heating and cooling system information, thermostat settings, personal preferences, indoor temperature, local weather conditions and several other behavioral factors. EcoFactor suggests that its service provides savings of from 10 percent to 20 percent on residential utility bills. In addition, EcoFactor is working with Comcast to integrate its complete back-office solution, including training, support for on-boarding, installation and reporting that provides customers with the details of their energy use.
Consulting & Integration
Product: The IBM Solution Architecture for Energy and Utilities Framework (SAFE)
Utilities need an externally referenceable smart grid blueprint that allows them to see the impacts of a smart grid on operations from an end-to-end perspective. The IBM SAFE approach is one way to break down the smart grid implementation process and begin to examine the optimal way to create scalable common architecture, using industry best-practice methodologies with the option of integrating some prebuilt assets that reduce development costs. In addition, the solution traverses generation operations, market operations, T&D operations, customer operations and enterprise services. This architecture, combined with IBM’s smart grid maturity model, is extremely helpful for utilities when developing business cases and roadmaps for their operations.
Product: Cylance Labs’ Infinity
As cyber-attacks increase in complexity and number, maintaining a sophisticated private intelligence cache of tools, tactics and procedures on all major global threat groups will be critical for utilities. Cylance has assembled an expert team and provides responders with access to extensive, unpublished threat intelligence. The key to the product is Cylance’s “Presponse” security, where a response is devised that will not only detect a compromise inside an organization, but will also determine its attack vector and source, and predict the most likely path of attack for the future.
Watch the Innovations Awards as we describe each company at The Networked Grid 2013, below.