Friday, August 28, 2009

Internet Co's will Embrace Smart Grid, but will Energy Co's Embrace Internet?

This piece in MIT's Technology Review describes a few of the economic incentives for Internet companies like Akamai to investigate and invest in energy market-aware hardware, software and networking gear.
The ability to throttle back energy consumption could have another benefit for massive Internet companies, the researchers say. If an energy company were struggling to meet demand, it could negotiate for computation to be moved elsewhere; the researchers say that the market mechanisms needed to make this possible are already in place.
Expect much more of this in the near future from companies well versed in rapid adaptation via flexible, well managed IT operations. But what to expect of utilities and other energy ecosystem players? One of the patterns that's emerged from conversations we've had with industry is that most utilities have succeeded until now by purposefully avoiding aggressive IT innovation. The logic being that energy generation and delivery need to be 99.99% reliable, whereas IT and the Internet have a not undeserved aura of instability (see "blue screen of death" and the "three fingered salute" as well as recent pervasive troubles in Twitter-dom.

How a history and culture of IT skepticism will affect future energy co. adaptation to Smart Grid technologies remains to be seen ... but we'll be watching.

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