I recently read an article about a “good enough” network. I know this has come up in the past, but this time was in a much different context. Some people might believe that a “good enough” network is enough enough when you are moving data and web servers, but what about when it becomes the lifeline for the power grid? Read More »
As electrical outages plague the East Coast after Hurricane Irene, it’s interesting to think about how technology could transform our energy future. In one example, Cisco is collaborating with Harris Corporation, an international communications and IT company, on a five year contract to provide a Wide Area Network (WAN) for the Western Electric Coordinating Council (WECC), the North American Regional Entity. WECC is responsible for coordinating the bulk electric system reliability for the Western U.S., Canada and part of Mexico, as well as the largest and most diverse North American Electric Reliability Corporation Regional Entity.
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Since 2009, when Cisco formally entered the “smart grid” market, we have made great progress in leveraging Internet Protocol (IP)-based technology to enable the transformation of the global energy industry. Through pilots, industry partnerships, acquisitions, and hiring key leaders from the energy industry, we’ve gained insights and are contributing innovative architectures and solutions to our customers.
As with every new business, we must be vigilant in applying lessons learned and willing to adapt our strategy to evolving conditions, be they economic, technological or policy-related. So after several customer pilots, we are refining our strategy so we can most effectively apply our experience and expertise in IP-based communications to the electric, gas and water networks globally.
Over the past two years the home and building energy management markets have evolved in such a way that we believe we can provide more value to our customers and the industry by enabling interoperability through our core networking products and solutions (for example, EnergyWise) as part of our integrated architecture within the broader smart grid effort.
For building energy management, this means we are actively pursuing several strategic options for Cisco’s Network Building Mediator and Mediator Manager product line, with an emphasis on minimizing the impact on current customers, partners and employees. For energy management in the home, we will transition our focus from creating premise energy management devices to using the network as the platform for supporting innovative applications and architectures that will improve our customers’ value proposition in the consumer energy management market.
By driving the network as the platform, leveraging our broader Cisco product portfolio and partner ecosystem, and by incorporating lessons learned into our Connected Grid Architecture, we can enable active customer participation in markets, grid operations, and service innovations. We can also drive open standards-based solutions and interoperability between existing products. This decision will enable Cisco to best serve its global customers by giving them the flexibility they need to be responsive to market transitions and consumer desires.
Enabling collaboration among public and private stakeholders within the industry is also vital to the success of our customers and partners. Cisco is hosting a Global Energy Summit on Tuesday, September 27th with John Chambers and thought leaders from the Energy industry including: former California Public Utilities Commissioner Dian Grueneich, former Commissioner with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Suedeen Kelly, President and CEO of Digital Energy for GE Bob Gilligan, Secretary General of Elia Group Pierre Bernard, President and COO Global Energy for Itron Philip Mezey, and many more distinguished guests.
Our commitment to the industry remains strong and our vision for energy management and Smart Grid has not changed -- to transform energy production, distribution, consumption and management using an end-to-end IP platform. By learning and adapting to changing market conditions, Cisco can better enable a 21st century model of energy management and the future global energy infrastructure.
Earlier this month, Cisco and the Federal Grid Company of Russia signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that establishes a long-term collaboration to improve the reliability and efficiency of the country’s power grid.
This MOU is the latest concrete step that Cisco has taken to help transform Russia’s energy infrastructure. Just about a year ago, Cisco set the mark by announcing a $1 billion investment in Russia over the next decade to drive entrepreneurship, sustainable innovation and energy efficiency. The investment includes the development of a collaboration model with Russian business in verticals such as smart grid.
William Ford Gibson, an author of science fiction who coined the term “cyberspace,” once said: “The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.” In other words, the future is happening, it’s just faster in some places and slower in others.
Gibson very well might have been talking about our electric grid, which is at varying stages of modernization throughout the world. While we anticipate that $4 trillion dollars will be invested in global smart grid transformation projects over the next twenty years, how do we ensure scalability, reliability and security across the board? How do we make sure that the electric grid for the 21st century is the platform for sustainability and innovation that many of us hope it can be?
At Cisco, our goal is to help utility customers see into the future and help them succeed in making smart grid a reality. To do so, we believe three areas need to be addressed: policy, technology and economics. For example, we need policies in place that promote investment in smart grid as well as energy independence and infrastructure security and reliability. The integration of information technology (IT) with energy technology (ET) will create new business models and greater opportunity for energy management, reducing our environmental impact. And economics will also be a critical factor in making the right policy and technology choices, as well as articulating the broader societal value of a smart grid.