From Smart Grid to Neural Grid

Industry Transformation and the Top Five Technologies
Poised to Bring the Grid into the Cloud

The Neural Grid represents more than Smart Grid v2.0—much more. Today, the smart grid implies the legacy mechanical power transmission and distribution (T&D) networks enhanced by pockets of automation, connectivity, and centralized IT systems. The Neural Grid implies a vastly more powerful platform of hard and soft assets leveraging ubiquitous connectivity, the cloud, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), edge computing, and pervasive sensing to perform a variety of energy and non-energy applications. It is the end game for grid modernization, transforming legacy infrastructure into a platform that will support a fully mature Energy Cloud environment.

In the Neural Grid, data and intelligence reside largely in the cloud, managing the intersection of generation assets and distribution networks with energy customers, buildings, transportation infrastructure, city systems, and distributed energy resources (DER) assets (solar, wind, microgrids, EVs, demand response programs, etc.). Asset ownership is diverse and utility grid data and assets work with third-party data and assets to coordinate energy supply and demand. In a nutshell, the Neural Grid takes the world’s largest machine—the grid—and gives it a brain. It replaces dumb network assets (poles and wires) with intelligent, multifunction infrastructure that interacts with cloud-based intelligence for energy and non-energy purposes.

This Navigant Research white paper defines the Neural Grid and identifies critical components of the ecosystem. It describes the conditions necessary for accelerated market expansion and highlights informative parallels which can be found in the mobile industry. Navigant Research also identifies the top five growth markets that stand to benefit as the smart grid investments of today transform into the Neural Grid market of the future.

Key Questions Addressed:
  • How will the smart grid technologies of today evolve in the coming years?
  • What is the Neural Grid?
  • What market conditions are necessary for widespread market adoption of next-generation technologies and systems?
  • Which technology segments will offer the highest growth as the smart grid evolves to the Neural Grid?
  • How should utilities and vendors prepare today for the Neural Grid paradigm of tomorrow?
Who needs this report?
  • Technology vendors
  • Cloud service providers
  • Communications service providers
  • Utilities and utility regulators
  • Grid IT and analytics solution vendors
  • Grid sensor vendors
  • Drone and grid robotics vendors
  • Cybersecurity solution vendors
  • Investor community

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

1.1   Neural Grid Takes Smart Grid into the Cloud

1.2   Neural Grid Growth Markets for Today and Tomorrow

1.2.1   Neural Grid Enabling Technologies

2. The Neural Grid and the Energy Cloud

2.1   The Energy Cloud

2.2   Neural Grid Platform Components

2.2.1   Neural Grid Markets Represent a $3.8 Trillion Opportunity – in the Near Term

2.3   The Perfect Storm for Mobile Platform Expansion

2.3.1   A Perfect Storm Accelerates Tangible Value Creation

2.3.2   The Cellco/Telco Analogy – When, Not If

3. From Smart Grid to Neural Grid: Top Five Growth Technologies

3.1   High Growth Now, Higher Growth Later

3.1.1   Connectivity   Connectivity Today: Smart Grid   Connectivity Tomorrow: Neural Grid

3.1.2   Sensing and Measurement Technologies   Sensing and Measurement Today: Smart Grid   Sensing and Measurement Tomorrow: Neural Grid

3.1.3   Drones and Robotics   Drones and Robotics Today: Smart Grid   Drones and Robotics Tomorrow: Neural Grid

3.1.4   Analytics and AI   Analytics Today: Smart Grid   AI Tomorrow: Neural Grid

3.1.5   Cybersecurity   Cybersecurity Today: Smart Grid   Cybersecurity Tomorrow: Neural Grid

4. Conclusions and Recommendations

4.1   Recommendations for Utilities

4.2   Recommendations for Technology Vendors

5. Acronym and Abbreviation List

List of Tables, Charts, and Figures

  • Neural Grid Ecosystem Revenue by Category, World Markets: 2017-2025
  • Annual T&D Drones and Robotics Revenue by Region, World Markets: 2017-2026
  • Annual Utility Analytics Revenue by Region, World Markets: 2017-2026
  • Grid Transformation Is Underway
  • Smart Grid vs. Neural Grid
  • The Emerging Energy Cloud
  • Energy Cloud Platforms
  • Neural Grid Platform Components
  • The Perfect Storm for Mobile Platform Expansion
  • Public Market Cap: Wireless vs. Wireline
  • Small Cells Densify Existing Cellular Networks
  • Asset Management Continuum
  • Example Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Asset Management Workflow
  • Analytics Sophistication Evolution
  • Grid Ecosystem Market Components: 2017

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