Smart Grid Upgrades: $434 Billion Spent By 2020

By Zach White , Mar 06, 2013 11:06 AM EST

The reasons for an upgraded and modern smart grid power system in America have become more and more obvious over the past few months and years. According to a report from financial analysts at Pike Research, an economic boom is another big one.

From efforts that are already underway alone, Pike anticipates $434 billion in revenue headed to various industries by the end of 2020.

Last year, $33 billion was spent on smart-grid technologies. By 2020, analysts expect the figure to reach $73 billion.

This money goes to all sorts of projects. The Pike report lists "influential utilities, control system vendors, telecommunications vendors, smart metering vendors, application and services vendors, systems integrators, cyber security vendors, and standards associations,” according to a Business Wire release.

Many utility companies are investing in smart meter technology, which will allow the power companies new abilities like remotely tracking power usage in real time, managing outages more effectively and shutting power on or off.

Others are upgrading transmission lines, automating their substations and implementing more efficient smart grid IT policies.

One of the biggest opportunities presented by this massive undertaking is for a shift from the the fossil fuel power of the old dumb grid toward the new renewable energies coming out of parts of the country.

While we used to run mainly on coal plants all over the country, new wind farms are popping up all over the Midwest, and where solar plants grow in America’s desert-covered Southwest. The infrastructure needs to be able to handle these changes.

Problems with the current grid have grown in frequency and severity recently, caused by increasingly extreme weather or our equally increasing energy consumption.

In October, Hurricane Sandy knocked out power for millions of people across the country, with particularly damaged areas left in the dark for days or weeks.

During the Super Bowl earlier this year, a massive blackout that delayed the game for more than a half hour once again reminded the country of the fragility behind our current grid.

President Obama has, on several prominent occasions, addressed the country’s need for 21st Century energy solutions like the smart grid.

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