REDWOOD CITY, Calif. Electric utilities need to cut a path to open smart grid networks and China's burgeoning energy sector could lead the charge, said an executive from a large electric utility. The call comes as the U.S. Department of Energy is gearing up to release details on a second round of grants for smart electric grids.
"There has to be a way to get beyond today's silos of proprietary [smart grid] products that don't talk to each other and require their own network operating systems," said David Mohler, chief technology officer of Duke Energy which supplies power to about four million U.S. households.
Somebody needs to crack the code on how you can profitably create a product suite that is interoperable in a big way," said Mohler, speaking at the Alternative Energy Innovations conference here.
Both the IEEE and the National Institute of Standards and Technology have launched smart grid standards efforts. Companies including Cisco Systems have lobbied the efforts to adopt Internet Protocol based technologies.
But in a video interview Mohler said China's energy utilities may set de facto standards for open mart grids due to the sheer size of their future procurements. In the last year, Duke forged at least two technology sharing agreements with utilities in China, mainly focused on solar systems.
Meanwhile, the Department of Energy is gearing up to release details on a second round of grants for smart grids. The grants are expected to total about $800 million and focus on funding soup-to-nuts demonstration systems of what a smart grid can deliver.