The 2010 North American Utility Smart Grid Deployment Survey

by David J. Leeds

NOTE: This report is also available as part of our Smart Grid Research Annual Subscription Service.

One thing is clear; many North American utility executives hold smart grid initiatives as a very high priority. 70% of survey respondents regard smart grid projects as either a strong priority or the highest priority relative to their overall business plans between now and 2015. In addition to the data provided in the chart below, 87% of survey respondents claim that senior management at their respective utilities is assigning special importance to smart grid initiatives.

How would you describe your current smart grid deployment status?

As we enter a new decade, the smart grid market continues to form in terms of maturation from nascent technology initiatives and future visions to that of a market with structure, demand, early deployments and promise for near-term (0-5 years) scale and continued longer-term adoption and market penetration. The year 2010 is pivotal for the evolution of smarter grids, as it marks the time when the smart grid market will begin its transition from hype to reality. Its future success and the ultimate size and opportunity in terms of market growth will be largely dependent on the events that unfold within the next 12-24 months.

With that said, GTM Research felt it was a priority to begin the year by releasing data, taken from a recent survey of smart grid industry leaders and visionaries from over 50 North American utilities, shedding quantitative light on the current and future state of smart grid deployments throughout the United States and Canada. Including a few data qualifiers, the survey is comprised of 37 questions covering all aspects of an end-to-end smart grid. The survey data is grouped into the following areas:

  • Data qualification
  • Smart meter deployments
  • Building out the "networked grid"
  • Primary deployment concerns
  • Connecting intelligent grid networks to end-users and consumers
  • The killer applications and benefits of smart grids
  • Distribution Automation (DA) and Distribution Management Systems (DMS)
  • The integration of renewable energy sources, grid storage and PHEVs
  • Utility familiarity with primary smart grid product/solution vendors

To view the key research findings and the full list of survey questions, please download the executive summary above.

This Report Contains Over 35 Data Graphics

This survey reached high-level smart grid decision makers with technical expertise. The majority of the respondents currently hold titles of CTO, CIO, VP of Engineering, Director of Smart Grid, Manager of AMI Projects, Technical Strategist, Manager of Innovation, Project Manager for Energy Delivery, Manger of Reliability Services, and/or Engineer at North American utilities of various sizes and types (i.e., IOUs, Munis and cooperatives).

In addition to providing straightforward raw data relating to how North American utility professionals are thinking about various smart grid issues, technologies, policies, challenges and opportunities, it becomes easy to glean high-level insights and key findings from the research. Additional details and extensive analysis accompanying each survey question is included in the full report.

GTM Research feels that the data provided in this survey provides invaluable insight into how the smart grid market will unfold in the coming years. With that said, the survey also makes it very clear that there are still many questions that need to be answered in this rapidly evolving market.

When will dynamic pricing be introduced? What is the most effective way to educate and engage consumers? What is the ultimate model for introducing home energy management platforms and systems into the consumer's home? What will emerge as the most optimal network architecture for distribution automation?

As much as this research provides answers to many of the smart grid market's most pressing questions, it also identifies key questions that remain largely unanswered, providing a roadmap to fill the gaps that exist in the market today, and how vendors and utilities will need to move the smart grid discussion forward in terms of solutions that will ultimately provide value to all parties involved.

GTM Research conducted this survey in order to gain insight about the current and future Smart Grid market in North America, by reaching out directly to utilities executives and employees intimately familiar with their smart grid projects. 

David J. Leeds Chief Smart Grid Analyst

 

David Leeds directs the smart grid research practice at GTM Research. He has guest lectured on the subject at MIT, Stanford, and The Wharton School of Business (University of Pennsylvania).

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