The number of devices defined as part of the “Internet of Things” continues to grow quickly as individuals and industries alike find innovative ways to utilize connected devices and networks. Enabling machine-to-machine (M2M) communication has endless possibilities, and is one of the more prominent technology areas in the emergence of smart energy. As home meters, personal devices and appliances begin to connect to each other, a bigger and far more comprehensive picture emerges on how to make smarter energy consumption decisions. Connecting devices in the home and local Internet networks to a smart grid enables two-way communication between homeowner and the power company and is becoming more of a reality with each passing day.
This article provides an overview of the Smart Energy Profile 2.0 (SEP), an emerging standard in the smart energy market, being developed by the ZigBee Alliance. With the basic understanding of SEP 2.0, software developers will be better prepared to select embedded software suited for the development of smart energy applications.
A new frontier with the Internet of Things
The Internet of Things is a popular buzz phrase and one that conjures up exciting visions of the future – a future where your refrigerator self-checks its contents and emails you a grocery shopping list just as you are about to leave work (not that grocery shopping is a terribly exciting experience), your house gets ready for your arrival by adjusting the temperature to an optimum level, and the oven can pre-heat for dinner. The rapid proliferation of devices embedded with a combination of powerful microprocessors, sensors, and wireless connectivity has resulted in more functionality and intelligence which leads us towards the vision of a smart networked world.
Figure 1: Energy providers, the development of a nationwide smart grid and energy-conscious consumers will usher in a new era of smart energy use
One of the applications of this set of technologies is to improve energy consumption, also termed smart energy. The concept behind smart energy is controlling energy use internally, within the home, and externally from the home to outside connected devices, networks, and the smart grid itself—all with the goal of optimizing energy production, distribution, and usage. Bi-directional communication between home networks and the power grid opens up possibilities for improved reliability and sustainability.
Figure 2: In a typical smart home, devices such as a washing machine, an in-home display, and a power meter all work together in tandem –to make the home and grid smarter