Last week Whirlpool announced that by 2015 all of their appliances would have embedded digital intelligence to make them responsive, transactive smart grid devices. There have been a few articles on this point, most recently this Reuters/GreenBiz one. Of course the crucial work here will be in developing open interoperability standards:
The home appliance manufacturer, famous for brands that include KitchenAid, Maytag, Amana, and its namesake, Whirlpool, among others, will form public-private partnerships to create an open, global standard for home appliances to transmit and receive signals by 2010. Once the standard is in place, the company will roll out compatible, electronically controlled appliances over the next five years.
The partnerships also will design policies that reward and incent manufacturers, utilities and consumers for offering and using the peak demand reduction abilities.
Game on, baby!
Relatedly, here’s an interesting GigaOM/Business Week article on the NIST interoperability standards work that I’ve been discussing. This article does a nice job of capturing the challenges, comparing the electricity industry standards development to other technology infrastructure industries, and highlighting the opportunities that open up if we can come up with an architecture for an open, interoperable smart grid that can become a platform for innovation. I particularly like the conclusion:
There’s the risk that the time crunch and complexity of the smart grid standards process could result in wrong choices. More likely, given the condensed timeline, is that standards bodies could set such broad guidelines that they’ll have little teeth. That’s probably a good thing, as companies, utilities and policymakers are just starting to discover what the real value of the smart grid is and will need market competition (not policy, standards, or technology) to help shape its future.
Hmmmm, where’ve I heard that before … ?