Cisco in Smart Grid Pilot in Germany

Cisco is partnering with a German electric company, Yello Strom, in a smart grid project designed to create a system that will help businesses and residents measure and control the energy consumption of their appliances. The system also will enable customers to schedule their appliances to run during off-peak hours.

Cisco Systems continues to aggressively expand its smart grid ambitions.

Cisco is already working with a growing number of energy companies and technology vendors in the United States and elsewhere on smart grid projects, and in September it unveiled its Smart Grid Ecosystem to bring together partners to work on interoperability standards and pushing the adoption of IP-based communications.

The company is now involved in another smart grid project, this one in Germany.

Cisco announced Oct. 5 that it is working with German electric company Yello Strom in a smart grid pilot to build an intelligent energy system that will enable 70 residential and business customers to communicate directly with the local power grid. The system will enable the customers to measure the amount of energy their electrical appliances are using and to control the consumption.

A home system armed with "smart plugs" will enable customers to schedule their appliances, such as dishwashers, to run during off-peak hours.

The project also will increase the use to green energy sources, such as solar power and a combined heat and power plant-and reduce each local area's reliance on reserve capacity.

Cisco's technology will enable customers to connect with the power sources over an IP (Internet Protocol) network, and the customers will get real-time information about their electricity consumption by using a smart electricity meter called Yello Sparzahahler online.

Cisco kicked off its smart grid push in May, with officials saying the market could be a $20 billion opportunity within five years. Cisco is looking to use its networking capabilities to create a highly manageable and intelligent electrical infrastructure from the power generator into the home or office.

"The control of electric current is very similar to the management of information flow, so smart grids operate on principles similar to those behind the Internet," Christian Feisst, industry lead for utilities within the Cisco Internet Solutions Business Group, said in a statement. "The exception is that electricity systems have a much greater number of nodes. This is where we are able to apply our expertise, integrating and processing crucial information that helps enable electricity consumption to be optimized."