Smart grid deployments around the world are bringing new capabilities to electric utilities in terms of efficiency, reliability, control, and the ability to integrate renewable energy and other distributed energy assets into their power generation and distribution infrastructure. In many ways, these upgrades represent the most dramatic overhaul of utility infrastructure in decades. However, at the same time, the rollout of smart grid technologies is also bringing a significantly increased level of complexity to utility operations, and many utilities will require substantial outside assistance to operate and maintain these new systems and infrastructure. A recent report from Pike Research anticipates that the arrival of the smart grid will create a sizable new market for managed services in the utility sector, one which the cleantech market intelligence firm forecasts will increase from $470 million in annual revenue in 2010 to nearly $4.3 billion by 2015.
"Operating the smart grid will require a set of capabilities and human resources that many utilities have not needed in the past," says industry analyst Marianne Hedin. "Smart grids are significantly more complex in terms of IT and communication systems infrastructure, in addition to the business processes required to support it. Especially with many of their engineers nearing retirement age, a number of utilities will increasingly turn to managed services providers for ongoing assistance."
Hedin adds that the emerging competitive landscape in the smart grid managed services market reveals a rather unique and interesting situation. This market has attracted vendors from several different industries, such as the IT sector, the communications product and services sector, and the manufacturing sector. Key categories of managed services players include the following:
- Telecom providers like Alcatel-Lucent, AT&T, Ericsson, Verizon, and others.
- Large traditional IT companies such as Accenture, Capgemini, CSC, HCL, IBM, Lockheed Martin, SAIC, Siemens, Wipro, and others.
- Smart grid companies including Itron, Tendril, Trilliant, and others.
- Application outsourcing providers such as Comverge and EnerNOC.
Pike Research anticipates that there will be room for many successful service providers in this new market, with leadership determined by companies' domain expertise within the utility sector, mix of IT and operations technology (OT) capabilities, and the ability to address customer relationship management needs among utilities.
source: pike research