The ZigBee Alliance, a global ecosystem of companies creating wireless solutions for use in energy, residential, commercial and industrial applications, on May 14 announced its members are joining forces and leveraging their global wireless and utility expertise to fight the predicted global energy crisis. With this commitment, the Alliance has increased membership and expanded its ability to deliver solutions that are helping consumers, businesses and utilities improve efficiency, reduce the need for new power plants and save money.
The alliance enjoys strong endorsement of its energy management and efficiency solutions by utility industry and smart energy grid proponents. Some of the world's leading and innovative energy companies, ranging from utilities to suppliers have recently joined the Alliance and are relying on ZigBee solutions. Utilities such as CenterPoint Energy, Southern California Edison and Sempra Utilities are working alongside other member companies such as Cellnet, Eaton, Itron, Phillips, Schneider Electric, Siemens, Comverge, Control4, DCSI, Golden Power, Johnson Controls, Legrand, Nivis, Nuri Telecom, Sensus Metering, Silver Spring Networks, Site Controls, Talon Communications, Trilliant Networks, Tritech Technology and Viconics to use existing low-cost and easily installable ZigBee products and services. As a result of these alliance member's efforts, more ZigBee products are being shipped now to utility companies around the world than ever before.
"CenterPoint Energy is one of the leading utility companies in the United States promoting and deploying intelligent grid technology. The ZigBee standard provides a crucial link to make our advanced metering infrastructure upgrade an even more robust reality," said Tom Standish, CenterPoint Energy group president, Regulated Operations. "Our AMI program enhances the efficiency and reliability of our operations and, through the use of ZigBee enabled equipment in the home, ultimately gives consumers more ways to manage and use energy in a more cost-effective and energy-efficient way."
Alliance members provide consumers, building owners and the energy industry with interoperable products and an open and interoperable standard connecting consumer and commercial devices to the utility grid. The ZigBee Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) Profile will take advantage of other ZigBee application profiles for Home and Commercial building automation products, filling a critical gap and integrating Home Area Networks (HAN), or in-premise networks, to smart energy grids. The ZigBee AMI Profile provides the critical "last foot" connection from a smart meter to existing ZigBee networks conducting home and commercial building automation. It also provides a standards-based approach for utility programs such as demand response and demand-based pricing programs which will drive global energy efficiency to unprecedented levels.
In the U.S. alone, progressive utility companies and state legislatures are expected to deploy new smart meters in approximately 30 million homes over the next few years. Southern California Edison selected ZigBee as the standard in its HAN technology for its five million smart meter upgrade program. Many countries and U.S. states are considering legislation to provide incentives and encourage the deployment of AMI to offset the predicted energy crunch, avoid building new power plants and help slow global carbon emissions.
"ZigBee is the best answer for utilities looking to deliver innovative services that bring value to both consumers and businesses while also introducing energy efficiency programs designed to offset the rising tide of global energy consumption," said Bob Heile, chairman of the ZigBee Alliance. "ZigBee has a global standard which lets product companies and utilities alike focus their time and energy on promoting energy efficiency programs rather than engineering country-by-country or state-by-state products. ZigBee provides immediate energy efficiency savings because it lets home and building owners use their ZigBee home area networks to participate in programs that reduce energy consumption. Ultimately, it pays to remember the cleanest energy is energy not generated in the first place.”
ZigBee Home Area Networks
ZigBee HAN, or in-premise networks, enable two-way communication and control of ZigBee devices inside the home and serve as the key entry point for smart energy grids. This communication and control is possible because ZigBee is a global wireless language that connects dramatically different devices. Because ZigBee is a global wireless standard, it provides the scalability and reliability needed to support an infrastructure as demanding as smart energy grids. ZigBee links devices starting with the utility meter and reaches thermostats, household appliances, HVAC, pool pumps, water heaters, lighting systems and other household or building systems creating the HAN. For utility companies, ZigBee enables a standards based approach to energy efficiency programs such as demand response, time-of-use pricing programs, energy monitoring, pay-as-you-use and net metering programs, enabling home owners use of distributed generation products like solar panels. These new energy management programs directly impact consumers and businesses as utilities grapple with meeting growing power demand while reducing the threat of rolling blackouts during peak usage periods.
Global Energy Issues:
- Increased energy efficiency is driven today by global macro trends like scarce energy resources, increased competition for resources and global warming.
- According to the International Energy Agency forecast, worldwide electricity demand will rise to 30,116 billion kilowatt-hours in 2030, more than double the 2003 level
- In the next decade, the United States will need to build an additional 160 large power plants to meet demand according to the North American Electric Reliability Council.
- Asian energy demand growth will be stronger than other regions at around 2.0 percent per year despite high energy prices through 2030
- Energy efficiency and demand response represents a fifth fuel – an alternative to coal, natural gas, hydropower and nuclear fuel – and is the cheapest, fastest and most effective way to secure the world's energy supply
The ZigBee Alliance is an association of companies working together to enable reliable, cost-effective, low-power, wirelessly networked monitoring and control products based on an open global standard. The ZigBee Alliance membership comprises technology providers and original equipment manufacturers worldwide. Membership is open to all. Additional information can be found at www.zigbee.org.