ZigBee Standards Provide Interoperability For Smart Energy Grids

May 14, 2007
Zigbee Advanced Metering Infrastructure fills critical gap between residential and commercial networks and smart utility grids

The ZigBee Alliance, a global ecosystem of companies creating wireless solutions for use in energy, residential, commercial and industrial applications, recently announced the endorsement of its energy management and efficiency solutions by utility industry and smart energy grid proponents. Some of the world's leading companies, ranging from utilities to suppliers have joined the Alliance and are relying on ZigBee solutions. Utilities such as CenterPoint Energy, Southern California Edison and Sempra Utilities are working alongside other member companies such as Cellnet, Eaton, Itron, Phillips, Schneider Electric, Siemens, Comverge, Control4, DCSI, Golden Power, Johnson Controls, Legrand, Nivis, Nuri Telecom, Sensus Metering, Silver Spring Networks, Site Controls, Talon Communications, Trilliant Networks, Tritech Technology and Viconics to use existing ZigBee products and services.

What Is Zigbee?

ZigBee is a global wireless standard which lets product companies and utilities focus their time and energy on promoting energy efficiency programs rather than engineering country-by-country or state-by-state products. ZigBee provides immediate energy efficiency savings because it lets home and building owners use their ZigBee home area networks to participate in programs that reduce energy consumption. Ultimately, it pays dividends on the idea that cleanest energy is energy not generated in the first place.

In the U.S. alone, progressive utility companies and state legislatures are expected to deploy new smart meters in approximately 30 million homes over the next few years. Southern California Edison selected ZigBee as the standard in its HAN technology for its five million smart meter upgrade program. Many countries and U.S. states are considering legislation to provide incentives and encourage the deployment of AMI to offset the predicted energy crunch, avoid building new power plants and help slow global carbon emissions.

ZigBee Networks Enable Connectivity, Smart Usage

ZigBee links devices starting with the utility meter and reaches thermostats, household appliances, HVAC, pool pumps, water heaters, lighting systems and other household or building systems creating the HAN. For utility companies, ZigBee enables a standards based approach to energy efficiency programs such as demand response, time-of-use pricing programs, energy monitoring, pay-as-you-use and net metering programs, enabling home owners use of distributed generation products like solar panels. These new energy management programs directly impact consumers and businesses as utilities grapple with meeting growing power demand while reducing the threat of rolling blackouts during peak usage periods.

Key Global Energy Issues

  • Increased energy efficiency is driven today by global macro trends like scarce energy resources, increased competition for resources and global warming
  • According to the International Energy Agency forecast, worldwide electricity demand will rise to 30,116 billion kilowatt-hours in 2030, more than double the 2003 level
  • In the next decade, the United States will need to build an additional 160 large power plants to meet demand according to the North American Electric Reliability Council
  • Asian energy demand growth will be stronger than other regions at around 2.0 percent per year despite high energy prices through 2030
  • Energy efficiency and demand response represents a 5th fuel -- an alternative to coal, natural gas, hydropower and nuclear fuel -- and is the cheapest, fastest and most effective way to secure the world's energy supply
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