Lockheed Martin has turned to the smart grid with a vengeance. The gigantic defense contractor has been helping utilities design, manage and secure smart meter networks, distribution grid sensor systems and microgrids for years, but in the past year has ramped up its efforts.
Honeywell bought a lock on a key piece of technology for OpenADR deployments when it bought Akuacom this summer. But challengers are emerging with OpenADR server products of their own.
Smart grid trade show GridWeek is wrapping up in Washington D.C., but the hard work of integrating all the hardware and software on display has just begun.
Big demand response players are leveraging their middleman role between utilities and customers to apply their technology in to fields traditionally defined as smart grid. Given the way the market is developing, they may have little choice.
Adding digital intelligence to the power grid is a complex and unfamiliar task for utilities, and they’re going to need a lot of hand holding. That’s going to drive the “smart grid managed services” market to more than $4.3 billion in global revenue by 2015.
Distributech, the once-sleepy power grid trade show, has been transformed into a high-profile smart grid showcase over the past couple of years — this year’s show in Tampa, Fla. is no exception. Here’s 10 things you should pay attention to coming outta Distributech this year.
Military bases have been some of the pioneers for so-called microgrids — systems of self-generated electricity and intelligent controls that can be disconnected from the grid at large to keep the lights on when the utility can’t provide power. The idea is that a tree falling on a power line or a transformer malfunction due to a heat-seeking squirrel shouldn’t compromise the nation’s defense.
But Balance Energy — a San Diego-based offshoot of British military contractor BAE Systems (s BA.L) — sees the bigger promise of microgrids in the private sector, not as islands of power unto themselves, but as trading partners, making and sharing electricity with each other and the grid at large.
Read More about Balance Energy Quietly Building a Web of Microgrids
When I think about smart grid security I get a tired-feeling like I’m being forced to watch the Bachelor on TV. That’s because the debate is largely over around how important it is (it is very), the U.S. government and standards bodies are taking it extremely seriously, and it’s clear that many companies are looking to the IT industry for cues on the architecture.
So what’s left to talk about then?: The money. A report from Pike Research predicts that utilities will spend $21 billion on smart grid cyber security between 2010 and 2015. Pike says utilities will spend the most on protecting distribution automation systems and transmission upgrades, followed by smart meter infrastructure.
Read More about Smart Grid Security: Little Debate, Lots of Money
I knew it was only a matter of time until some developer figured out a way to turn the big trackpad on the MacBooks into a little tablet. The folks at Ten One Design have stepped up to the plate with Inklet, a program that does quite a bit. Inklet accepts input from the fingertip, but adds even more functionality when used with the company’s Pogo Sketch ($14.95) stylus. The Pogo Sketch is designed to add stylus control over touchscreens, and that includes the MacBook trackpad.
While Inklet ($24.95) is designed to allow drawing into programs that accept such input, it also leverages the handwriting recognition built into OS X to convert handwritten input into text. The program has palm rejection to prevent inadvertent input when the palm is resting on the trackpad. To appreciate what Inklet can do, have a look at this video:
Can making stealth bombers and radar systems translate into a successful clean energy and energy efficiency technology business? Defense contractor Lockheed Martin, like competitor Boeing, seems to think so. In a briefing on Wednesday Lockheed Martin executives described the defense firm’s overarching energy strategy, which includes project management for solar thermal technology, wind, synthetic fuels, fuel cells (mobile soldier power), ocean energy technology, satellite and carbon monitoring systems and smart grid systems. As Jim Kohlhaas, VP of Energy Initiatives with Lockheed’s Corporate Engineering & Technology group, put it, the company is looking at “any and all alternative energy sources.”
Lockheed Martin is looking to take its skills in managing, integrating and financing large engineering projects and apply them to the emerging clean energy and energy efficiency businesses. As clean energy projects move from demo size to large commercial scale (1 GW or more), a company like Lockheed Martin will start to attract interest from utilities that want to work with a large player that can streamline the process. For example Christopher D. Myers, VP of Solar Energy Programs for Lockheed Martin, said there hasn’t been a lot of upfront systems engineering or modeling systems for an industry like solar thermal. We can deliver a project on time, and on budget, said Myers, in an industry that has been dominated by a lot of small and VC backed companies.
Read More about Why Lockheed Martin Wants to Be In The Clean Energy Biz