Alabama to deploy smart neighbourhood pilot programme 26 APRIL 2017

Alabama Power announced its plans to deploy a smart grid pilot under efforts to be able to offer customised solutions to improve energy efficiency in their homes.

The US utility is collaborating with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to deploy the smart grid pilot ‘Smart Neighbourhood’ to its consumers residing in the Hoover community of Signature Homes.

Under the pilot, the energy provider will develop and integrate with its grid network, a microgrid comprising solar panels, battery energy storage system and backup generation.

The microgrid is set to be complete by 2018 and will provide the energy distribution company with energy capacity of up to 586,000KWh per annum.

The project will include some 62 households equipped with energy efficiency technologies and smart home appliances to help consumers improve management of their energy usage to reduce energy costs.

The smart home appliances will include LED lighting systems, refrigerators and dishwashers, heat pumps, water heaters, intelligent thermostats, mobile applications and voice activated smart home systems.

The utility will use data compiled from the smart home systems over a period of two years to improve its customer services by developing new innovative programmes.

John Hudson, senior vice president of marketing and business development at Alabama Power, said: “Customers today expect energy solutions that fit their lifestyles, and that is the idea behind Smart Neighborhood by Alabama Power.

“Our goal is to continue to enhance our customers’ experiences and to ensure they have more control over their energy use.”

Microgrid and grid network integration

The news follows the release of a new report which predicts revenue generation within the utility distribution microgrid (UDM) market in the US to reach $917 million by 2024.

Navigant Research states that the emergence of innovative smart energy technologies including smart inverters, smart switches and solutions to remotely control distributed energy resources will drive growth in the utility distribution microgrid market.

However, Peter Asmus, principal research analyst with Navigant Research, notes, “Without regulatory clarity, the UDM market may be limited due to restrictions on rate-basing of infrastructure that is redundant or perceived as also serving a single customer or group of customers’ needs.”

On a global scale, the research firm forecast UDMs to represent 10 to 15% of the total microgrid market.