Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) unveiled its foray into the smart grid playing field today. The search-engine-tuned-Internet-giant company launched a prototype Web application called PowerMeter that displays home energy use as measured by smart meter hardware devices.
Google hopes to convince companies making smart meters to allow the information collected to be collected and displayed by PowerMeter.
The idea is that PowerMeter, which allows homeowners to monitor in real time the power being used by individual appliances in the home, will allow users to reduce their enegy consumption.
Google’s entry into the smart grid sector is likely to have a big effect on the industry, which has yet to develop standard protocols for hardware and software communiciation. Currently, numerous companies are developing and marketing proprietary systems that would allow them to lock in arrangements with utilities and perhaps customers as well.
There is a push for smart grid technology to adopt Internet Protocol, a move that would undoubtedly benefit Google.
Google today also published recommendations to the California Public
Utility Commission, advocating that smart meter data be available to
consumers for free in standard formats.
"Unfortunately, many of today’s smart meters don’t display information
to the consumer. We consider this unacceptable. We believe that
detailed data on your personal energy use belongs to you, and should be
available in a standard, non-proprietary format," according to the
announcement on the Official Google blog.
In September 2008, the company announced a partnership with GE (NYSE: GE) to support the development of smart grid initiatives.
For extended coverage, link to CNET news below.
With PowerMeter, Google is validating the valuable role of energy monitoring in empowering end users with the information they need to take control of their personal energy consumption. I work with Fat Spaniel Technologies (www.fatspaniel.com), and we absolutely support Google’s stated principle that “open protocols and standards should serve as the cornerstone of smart grid projects” (from their blog). Last year we announced the industry’s first open energy monitoring solution – the Fat Spaniel Insight Platform™. We believe that in order to provide users with a complete energy solution, it must be an open platform that can monitor all devices and systems and distill the data into usable information. As such, Fat Spaniel will extend its open, standardized interface to Google’s PowerMeter once it is publicly released. We currently provide the monitoring technology for more than 2,000 renewable energy plants across 17 countries today, and we think that Google’s validation of the energy monitoring market will help spread the technology for adoption across all energy systems universally.