The Smart Grid doesn’t work - without energy measurement

It’s a well-known axiom that you can’t manage what you don’t measure. This applies equally to the smart grid, and in this context the point of measurement is electricity consumption. After all, what is the ultimate goal of a smart grid, if not to save energy?

09/26/2011


It’s a well-known axiom that you can’t manage what you don’t measure. This applies equally to the smart grid, and in this context the point of measurement is electricity consumption. After all, what is the ultimate goal of a smart grid, if not to save energy?

IMS Research defines the smart grid as “a utility supply infrastructure with the inherent ability to match and manage generation and consumption efficiently, while obtaining maximum benefits from the available resources.” So the first stop along the way to “match and manage generation and consumption efficiently” is to measure the demand. To what extent is this happening today and how is that changing?

Energy measurement today is primarily taking place between the distribution and consumption portions of the grid in the form of a utility meter. We estimate that 95% of equipment integrating electronic measurement functionality was accounted for by solid state electricity meters in 2010. Beyond this, power quality and submeters are the second largest market for energy measurement devices, followed by the emerging residential panel meter and residential plug meter markets. It is to be expected that utility metering is a sizeable market; after all utilities are motivated to install energy measurement devices as that’s how they get paid. But given the push we’ve seen towards a smarter grid, I’d be surprised if you weren’t surprised at just how few devices are actually measuring consumption. Our estimate for 2010 excluding utility meters: less than 5 million from a target market containing over 500 million units of devices in the industrial, commercial and residential markets that are critical electricity transfer points or high profile electricity consumption equipment.

Changes are afoot. Utilities are leveraging the smart grid to motivate consumers to share in the responsibility of managing electric power consumption. Companies and consumers are realizing that to identify problem areas of energy consumption within factories and homes they need many interconnected devices that perform this function. We’re early into a two-step process that we are predicting will ultimately see energy measurement functionality being integrated into a wide variety and large volume of devices. The first step involves placing dedicated communicating measurement devices such as power meters, submeters, residential panel meters and residential plug meters, alongside targeted equipment. Once this starts happening to a greater extent, and benefits are observed through centralized analysis of the data obtained, demand will be created for equipment with integrated power measurement. 

Currently, the progress being made towards integration of metering type functionality within actual devices is mostly limited to industrial/commercial type applications.

Within grid infrastructure we’re seeing solid state protection and control IEDs containing this functionality replacing traditional electromechanical equivalents; similarly in datacenter applications “dumb” rack-level power distribution units are being replaced with intelligent ones capable of providing kWh analysis. Other areas show long-term promise: outdoor/street lighting is often tied directly to the grid without a meter and represents low hanging fruit. Similarly, motors consume more electricity than any other device in industry, and there exists the bizarre scenario that if you care about minimizing and measuring motor energy consumption today you need two devices (a motor drive and a power meter). By 2015, IMS Research predicts over 160 million devices will integrate electronic consumption measurement functionality.



Top Plant
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America.
Product of the Year
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
June 2018
2018 Lubrication Guide, Motor and maintenance management, Control system migration
May 2018
Electrical standards, robots and Lean manufacturing, and how an aluminum packaging plant is helping community growth.
April 2018
2017 Product of the Year winners, retrofitting a press, IMTS and Hannover Messe preview, natural refrigerants, testing steam traps
June 2018
Machine learning, produced water benefits, programming cavity pumps
April 2018
ROVs, rigs, and the real time; wellsite valve manifolds; AI on a chip; analytics use for pipelines
February 2018
Focus on power systems, process safety, electrical and power systems, edge computing in the oil & gas industry
Spring 2018
Burners for heat-treating furnaces, CHP, dryers, gas humidification, and more
April 2018
Implementing a DCS, stepper motors, intelligent motion control, remote monitoring of irrigation systems
February 2018
Setting internal automation standards

Annual Salary Survey

After two years of economic concerns, manufacturing leaders once again have homed in on the single biggest issue facing their operations:

It's the workers—or more specifically, the lack of workers.

The 2017 Plant Engineering Salary Survey looks at not just what plant managers make, but what they think. As they look across their plants today, plant managers say they don’t have the operational depth to take on the new technologies and new challenges of global manufacturing.

Read more: 2017 Salary Survey

The Maintenance and Reliability Coach's blog
Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
One Voice for Manufacturing
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Maintenance and Reliability Professionals Blog
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Machine Safety
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
Research Analyst Blog
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Marshall on Maintenance
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
Lachance on CMMS
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
Electrical Safety Update
This digital report explains how plant engineers need to take greater care when it comes to electrical safety incidents on the plant floor.
Maintenance & Safety
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
IIoT: Machines, Equipment, & Asset Management
Articles in this digital report highlight technologies that enable Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies.
Randy Steele
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Matthew J. Woo, PE, RCDD, LEED AP BD+C
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Randy Oliver
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me