The smart grid will be an information enriched energy/utility network it is going to require substantial information processing, storage and data mining resources. An entire new software sector is rising to meet the challenges and fill the many new needs opened up by its arrival. Spending on the smart grid is estimated to be $165 billion over the next 20 years (Source: Electric Power Research Institute, EPRI) and a good portion of this will be on software and data services. The smart grid is a complex highly networked system that must operate in diverse and often challenging environments that combine very large complex facilities with vast numbers of edge nodes – e.g. the smart meters that are its consumer fronting boundary. It will require sophisticated software in order to operate efficiently and even to operate at all.
This topic is explored in greater depth in our series of articles on the Smart Grid that are focused on the software that will be needed by this new kind of network. For further reading please see the following posts on our blog: The Green Economy Will Need a Smart Grid…and Building it will be Big Business ••• Smart Meters Open Up New Software Sector ••• The Dark Side of the Smart Grid (Updated)
What follows is a by no means exhaustive list of some of the companies I have been following that are building software solutions for the Smart Grid. I have tried to keep the focus on only those companies that are actively offering software for the Smart Grid, for Smart Meters, for Power Analytics, for systems focused on improving the energy efficiency of the grid, and for energy management systems for homes and businesses tied to smart grid networks and designed to operate with it.
Some of the other criteria I used in evaluating the candidates for this list were whether the companies were hiring professionals and what their current funding situation looked like for the startups in this group.
I am sure that I have missed some good companies. If any of you know of any that I may have overlooked, I would appreciate a heads up. I will definitely take a look at them as well. As I said before, this list will evolve over time, and is by no stretch of the imagination complete. Think of it as one single snapshot — a snapshot taken by an interested observer.
BPL Global, Ltd. (BPLG) — The Pittsburgh-based company is on this year’s 2009 GoingGreen East 50 Top Private Company List. Founded in 2004, the company provides software solutions and services to electric utilities, enabling an intelligent grid to more efficiently manage demand, integrate distributed energy resources, improve service reliability, and optimize cost and capital productivity. BPL Global partners with local utilities, internet service providers, equipment suppliers and financiers to create end-to-end solutions integrating the best in software, communications, hardware and managed services to aggressively deploy smart grid solutions around the world. As part of the clean technology sector of the electric utility industry, their applications provide the critical foundation for a coordinated, intelligent grid to deliver energy more efficiently for a greener environment.
Ecologic Analytics, LLC – Located in Bloomington, MN, Ecologic Analytics is a leading provider of meter data management software solutions and decision management technologies that transform volumes of AMI (advanced metering infrastructure) data for electric, natural gas, and water utilities into valuable information that can be used by the entire organization to make quality business decisions. Ecologic Analytics is one of the few AMI-neutral companies. Being AMI-neutral enables Ecologic Analytics to recommend software designs that are best of breed and allow utilities to take full advantage of all of their AMI systems. In addition, the use of Ecologic Analytics’ Meter Data Management System (MDMS) software permits a utility to separate the collection of meter data from its use. This means meter data collection systems can be changed without affecting utility applications, and vice versa.
GridPoint, Inc. – Founded in 2003 ,and based in Arlington, VA, GridPoint offers an open software platform for distributed energy systems, including: real time fine grained load management; software for integrating renewable energy into the grid; software to manage the two-way power flow between plug-in electric vehicles and the grid; and energy storage integration. GridPoint is a winner of the AlwaysOn GoingGreen 100 Top Private Companies for 2007 and was chosen by Excel Energy to participate in its Smart Grid City initiative that is demonstrating various Smart Grid technologies and wiring up the city of Boulder, CO to a smart grid.
Silver Spring Networks – Silver Spring Networks is a Smart Grid startup based out of Redwood City in the Silicon Valley. It was founded in 2002 and recently raised 75 million dollars in new funding. Silver Spring Networks builds networks that enable a utility to make the business changes necessary today to improve efficiency, reliability, and customer service while reducing costs. Built for real-time networking, its open standards permit multiple vendors to innovate new products and services for the utility while remaining scalable and secure for system-wide implementation. It seamlessly integrates these new networking technologies, while simultaneously building in redundancy, integrity and reliability and increasing operational efficiencies.
SmartSynch, Inc. – A privately held company Based in Jackson, MS and founded in 1999, SmartSynch engages in the development of public, wireless, smart metering technology for the utility, commercial, and industrial energy markets. The company’s smart grid intelligence solutions monitor, capture, and transmit power consumption data in time-based intervals over IP-based networks. It offers: SmartMeters, a SSI module and a communication device that measures the electricity consumed and allows utilities to retrieve the data in real-time via public wireless networks and the Internet; Advanced Communication Network, which provides the infrastructure for data transportation; and Transaction Management System software, an application for management and monitoring.
Tendril Networks – The privately held startup, based in Boulder, CO is offering a complete, simple-to-use and easy-to-understand solution for energy efficiency that it hopes will fill in the gap between utilities and consumers. It also intends to allow consumers and energy companies to communicate, and to collaborate through its intermediating software. It wants to provide an open architecture that becomes the basis upon which other companies build their own specialized niche software. It also offers an energy management system geared towards utilities; smart energy devices, such as thermostats; and customer front end applications. It has recently landed a multi-year deal with with Houston-based Reliant that opens up the potential for it to place hundreds of thousands of its devices into homes in the markets served by that giant utility.
Tropos Networks – This startup based in Sunnyvale, CA markets open-standards based wireless IP networks. It is positioning itself as a provider of the underlying network infrastructure for community-wide networks of smart meters. In addition, a wireless network also opens up many other opportunities for utilities to better manage their own networks, such as monitoring power quality over the network, or facilitating remote surveillance of sub-stations.
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