Smart Grid Industry Needs A Common Information Model

The Smart Grid industry is a veritable tower of Babel when it comes to terminology, jargon, and acronyms.  There are several reasons for this starting with the number of domains that comprise the Smart Grid.  The conceptual model for the Smart Grid maps out Generation, Transmission, and Distribution, plus Markets, Operations, Service Providers, and Consumption.  Each of these domains has its own terms, some reflecting a century of usage, while others are inventing new terms daily.  For instance, the acronym HEMS (Home Energy Management Systems) didn’t exist until a few years ago, but now it’s commonly used in that dynamic business sector focused on the software and hardware for Consumption solutions and services.  Other emerging industries, like renewables and energy storage, are also producing new words and acronyms.  Other terms, like Demand Response, are well-used within the electric utilities, but I challenge the average Joe or Jane Ratepayer to deliver a definition of what this non-intuitive term really means. 

And then there are the acronyms, designed to increase inscrutability not only between the various Smart Grid domains, but sometimes also within them.   For instance, there are at least two meanings for CSP.  If I’m in the Service Provider domain, CSP means a Curtailment Service Provider.  If I’m in renewables, CSP means Concentrating Solar Power.  Ditto for OASIS.  Anyone from an ecommerce background would understand that acronym to mean an organization focused on creating ecommerce and web standards.  Others familiar with power markets would immediately think of an Internet-based tool that shares transmission price information. 

The convergence of emerging technologies and existing domains means that it is important to develop a Common Information Model to deliver an industry-accepted inventory of terms and definitions.  This ensures that a knowledge foundation is accessible to everyone to encourage rapid adoption of solutions and acceleration of innovations.  A Common Information Model needs to reflect the Smart Grid perspective for each definition and be vendor-agnostic as well as technology-agnostic.  The Smart Grid Dictionary addresses these needs, not only for industry veterans but also for people interested in learning more about the Smart Grid.  This is especially important in fostering innovations that will come, as they always do in Silicon Valley, from new approaches to existing problems.  Just imagine how Google is going to shake up the energy business through its Google Energy subsidiary.  

A  Smart Grid Dictionary reader had this to say:  “Coming from server and microprocessor chip design backgrounds, I never heard of terms like AMI and Demand Response. The Smart Grid Dictionary has been a one-stop shop for me to get crucial help when climbing up the steep learning curve – and I’m still climbing this learning curve with the help of Smart Grid Dictionary now. I’ll be one of the loyal readers of the Smart Grid Dictionary for the foreseeable future. It suffices to say that the Smart Grid Dictionary has become one of the most important resources I could not live without. Thank you very much for making such a valuable resource available.”    

I can’t wait to see how this reader applies his skills and knowledge in the Smart Grid – and I know it will be an invaluable contribution that couldn’t have happened without his fresh approach to solving issues. 

I’ll be at the first Smart Grid Summit that ITExpo East is sponsoring next week to present and moderate a few sessions.  I hope to see you there, or at the upcoming Grid ComForum in early February!

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