Wi-Fi Networks for Smart Grid Applications

  • April 2013
  • -
  • Navigant Research
  • -
  • 15 pages

More than a billion devices with Wi-Fi capability are sold globally each year. Once thought of strictly in terms of personal area networks for Internet access, the 802.11 Wi-Fi networking standard is now filling an expanded role within the smart grid ecosystem, including wide area networking applications like AMI backhaul and substation and distribution automation applications. Yet, in home area networks, Wi-Fi-based nodes have not made serious headway against the entrenched ZigBee standard, but efforts are underway to reduce the power consumption of Wi-Fi chipsets and to ensure their interoperability with ZigBee-based devices.

These developments, along with advances in mesh-based Wi-Fi solutions and emerging wide-range 802.11-based standards, should lead to broader acceptance and deployment of Wi-Fi technology for smart grid applications. Wi-Fi solutions have been utilized in numerous municipal utility smart grid deployments, although many utilities remain concerned about interference and poor propagation for solutions based on Wi-Fi standards. Navigant Research forecasts that annual shipments of Wi-Fi communications nodes for smart grid applications will surpass 1.2 million worldwide by 2020.

This Navigant Research report details emerging developments with the Wi-Fi standard and analyzes its value as a smart grid communications network for a variety of applications. The report provides a comprehensive assessment of the demand drivers and inhibitors, and details its use in municipal utility smart grid deployments. Key industry players are profiled and worldwide unit deployments of Wi-Fi-based communications nodes are forecast, segmented by application and region, through 2020.

Key Questions Addressed:

• What are the advantages and disadvantages of Wi-Fi as a communications solution for utility applications?
• Where have municipal utilities deployed Wi-Fi-based smart grid technology? What can other utilities learn from these deployments?
• How does Wi-Fi compare with ZigBee as a standard for home area networking smart grid applications?
• What new standards are in development for 802.11 Wi-Fi-based technology and how will they affect the attractiveness of Wi-Fi as a communications solution in the smart grid?
• What are the pros and cons of using Wi-Fi based communications over unlicensed spectrum? How great is the risk of interference?
• How large is the market opportunity for vendors of Wi-Fi-based solutions worldwide, and how extensive will utility implementations be by 2020?

Who needs this report?

• Utilities
• Smart grid technology vendors
• Wireless communications equipment vendors
• Industry associations involved in wireless standards development
• Investor community

Table Of Contents

Table of Contents

1. Executive Summary

2. Market Update
2.1 Wi-Fi Background
2.2 Wi-Fi Standards and Spectrum Considerations
2.2.1 Current 802.11 Standards
2.2.2 The ISM Bands
2.2.3 Emerging Wi-Fi Standards
2.3 Wi-Fi in Smart Grid Applications
2.3.1 Wi-Fi versus ZigBee
2.4 Drivers and Inhibitors
2.4.1 Market Drivers
2.4.2 Market Inhibitors

3. Key Industry Players
3.1 Municipalities/Utilities
3.1.1 Avista Utilities
3.1.2 Burbank Water and Power
3.1.3 Fort Collins Utilities
3.1.4 DTE Energy
3.1.5 Duke Energy
3.1.6 Guam Power Authority
3.1.7 Kansas City Power and Light
3.1.8 Public Service Company of Oklahoma
3.1.9 Silicon Valley Power
3.2 Equipment Vendors
3.2.1 ABB/Tropos Networks
3.2.2 Aclara
3.2.3 Alvarion
3.2.4 Aruba Networks
3.2.5 GainSpan
3.2.6 Intwine Energy
3.2.7 Itron, Inc.
3.2.8 Qualcomm Atheros, Inc.
3.2.9 Redpine Signals
3.3 Industry Associations and Consortia
3.3.1 Consortium for Smart Energy Profile Interoperability
3.3.2 Wi-Fi Alliance

4. Market Forecast
4.1 Global Outlook
4.1.1 North America
4.1.2 Rest of World
4.2 Applications

5. Conclusions and Recommendations
5.1 Recommendations for Utilities
5.2 Recommendations for Vendors



List of Charts and Figures

• Wi-Fi Smart Grid Communication Node Shipments by Region, World Markets: 2012-2020
• Wi-Fi Smart Grid Communication Node Shipments by Application, World Markets: 2012-2020

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