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Major trend – the emerging smart energy infrastructure

For years, I’ve been advising my clients that one of the biggest trends for the next decade is the rapid emergence of an intelligent energy infrastructure.

It’s happening now — it’s happening all around you — and the implications are pretty huge in terms of economic growth.

Here’s a video that was filmed two years ago, in which I talk about what happens “when thermostats join the cloud.”

Today, I bought the new ipThermostat app for my iPhone; it provides instant, seamless access to the two Internet-enabled Proliphix thermostats in my home and ski chalet/cottage. I’ve written about these devices previously on this blog. (I could link to my thermostat before, but it was via a Web page. iPThermostat makes it seamless and fast.)

Such connectivity allows me to actively manage my energy spend, and better manage my own little environmental footprint. Take us into a world in which hundreds of millions are doing the same thing, and you put a serious dent into heating and air conditioning spending.

Device connectivity is but one small trend in a number of major trends that are coming together all at once:

  • HVAC 2.0: major industrial players are adding intelligence to the next generation of commercial, industrial and resident heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment. We’re seeing remote monitoring and management; better analysis and insight into ; rapid response to out-of-norm operations. All of this allows people to more actively control overall energy usage
  • increasing energy / electrical system demand: quite simply, despite the recession, the demand on our electrical grid continues to increase. This demands new solutions, with the result that a lot of people are putting a lot of mindshare to the issue of how to squeeze more out of our existing energy infrastructure.
  • the new NIMBYism: one impact of social networking is that it is far more difficult for any utility to build a new power plant. The new activism can slow and delay such efforts, and often, successfully shut them down. This only makes the challenge of doing more with what we have now ever more important.
  • Energy grid 2.0: do a search for “smart grid” and you’ll see a flood of news stories. There’s a tremendous amount of hype, but much of it is real. Cisco recently suggested that the connectivity component of the infrastructure will be worth more than $100 billion over five years. That’s some serious spending.
  • the impact of analytics: raw computing horsepower will help to build the smart grid — companies like Google are aggressively involved. The same horsepower will help consumers and users better understand their usage, and allow more intelligent demand. Big, big trend!

So what does it all mean?

As thermostats plug into the cloud, everything changes.


  • iPThermostat app from Our Home Spaces
  • Blog post When thermostats get connected
  • Blog post Silicon Valley: Is Innovation Dead?
  • Blog post HVAC 2.0
  • Trends document (big PDF); page 3 Analytics & the energy grid
  • Proliphix Internet enabled thermostats

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