While they represent a small part of the smart grid market today, smart grid as a service (SGaaS) solutions allow utilities with financial constraints to spread project costs over several years, and can provide skilled IT professionals to utilities that may otherwise have difficulty attracting talent. Growth in this segment over the next 10 years is expected to be strong, as utilities with limited budgets find managed services to be a cost-effective and manageable alternative for their smart grid initiatives. According to a recent report from Navigant Research, revenue from SGaaS solutions will grow from $1.7 billion annually in 2014 to $11.2 billion in 2023.
“Traditionally, utilities have shied away from outsourcing operations beyond back-office functions like billing or payroll,” says Richelle Elberg, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. “But the tremendous growth in cloud-based services for business of all types has increased utilities’ awareness of and comfort levels with cloud-based solutions.”
Besides the most obvious factor of cost, SGaaS offers several potential advantages over conventional, in-house smart grid deployments, according to the report, including reduced time to market and improved security. Cloud computing has advanced to such a degree that the security employed by third-party vendors may be stronger than what a utility can implement internally.
The report, “Smart Grid as a Service,” analyzes the global market for SGaaS offerings and describes how and where they are being used by utilities. The report discusses significant market drivers and applications and outlines challenges to market acceptance. Global market forecasts for managed services for applications in several smart grid categories – home energy management, advanced metering infrastructure, distribution automation and substation automation communications, substation asset monitoring, demand response, and IT and analytics – are presented through 2023. For the United States, forecasts are segmented by investor-owned utility, municipal utility, and cooperative utility. The report also provides in-depth profiles of key vendors and examines several utility deployment case studies.