Optimists in the eco debate are often accused of pinning unrealistic hopes on the bet that American companies will create sophisticated technology that’s competitive. They believe the green sector will become a vital element in the economy recovery.
Whether or not this is overly confident remains to be seen. Two companies that already are active in international competition for highly sophisticated green tech are involved in a smart metering project in Ireland.
The companies, Redwood City, CA’s Trilliant and AclaraTech in Hazelwood (Mo) are competing against French telecommunications firm Sagem and Germany’s Elster Group.
They are -as yet- an exception to the rule. If you read this high quality Bloomberg article about what the international competition in the global solar energy sector amounts to you won’t spot a single US company.
The winner of the Irish competition will install advanced energy meters in Irish homes by 2013. At the moment, some 15,000 Irish homes are being assessed free of charge on how the smart meter technology would benefit consumers. And another 6,000 houses are going to be extensively tested for behavioral use of electricity in preparation of the project. The pilot project will take off in 2010 and meters from all four international companies are going to be installed during the trial. The Irish Independent newspaper reports that the project, when it’s completed, will have cost ‚Ç¨1bn or more and by the time of the final roll out up to 21,000 Irish homes will be outfitted with the smart metering technology.
The attraction of smart meters is that power usage is being read every 30 minutes. The readings are fed back to a central system that pinpoints how much energy a particular consumer uses. The aim of the game is of course to help consumers spend less on their energy bills, and the data could provide more detailed information about the daily side of things by informing customers of the powr generators’ energy forecastings. Some 60,000 Irish consumers are being invited to participate in the pilot scheme and ultimately one third of these people will get meters installed.
Large players in the US domestically include American Electric Power which meters in about 5 million homes across 11 states and just announced that it will start to test smart technology in about 10,000 houses in South Bend, Ind., according to this report in Forbes.