The Future of the Smart Grid: Applications

With the smart grid-focused conference GridWeek convening in Washington DC this week, you can expect a whole lotta noise about the latest products, plans and partnerships from smart grid-minded firms. But look to one area to stand above the rest in terms of development and innovation: applications. Utilities are making deals to lay down the pipes for smarter power grids, but it will be the applications that run on top of these networks that will drive a lot of the revenues for companies, and ultimately provide the important functionality for consumers and utilities.

Yep, expect software announcements to dominate the GridWeek buzz. For example, this morning, network leader Silver Spring Networks announced the latest upgrade to its web-based consumer-facing energy portal, as well a new version of its demand response software platform for utilities. Silver Spring originally bought the home energy software when it acquired startup Greenbox a year ago, and Senior Director of Product Marketing for Silver Spring Matt Smith told me in a phone interview that the newly upgraded application focuses on keeping customers engaged and increasing the usefulness of the smart meter data.

Demand response player Comverge had an announcement in the same vein on Monday, and laid out a new “vision” of how it will do business from now on based around selling solutions and services more aggressively. Comverge’s move to rebrand demand response as “Intelligent Energy Management” is also part of the overall trend that we outlined in the report: Demand Response as the Backdoor to the Smart Grid (subscription required).

Other companies I’ve interviewed so far this week have upcoming news based around new functionality for their web-based applications. Stay tuned for some interesting software-related moves from high-profile companies.

In the same way that the construction of the Internet eventually led to a wealth of applications built from entrepreneurs, expect the same from the smart grid. Smart analytics will create the next-generation of innovation around energy — from the foundation of new business opportunities for greentech entrepreneurs — and help both individuals and organizations finally reduce their energy consumption. That’s the idea, anyways.

For more research on demand response and the smart grid check out GigaOM Pro (subscription required):

Image courtesy of ktylerconk.