Chapter 3. Industry Focus

Following is a handful of studies drawn from industries that will be particularly affected by the rise of the industrial internet. The accessibility of these examples varies; building the smart grid, with dynamic electricity prices calculated instantaneously as electricity supply and demand shift, will take years of stack development, entailing careful collaboration between power plant operators, distributors, independent system operators, and local utilities, and drawing in the seasoned engineering bases of all those participants.

Even so, some elements of the smart grid stack have been standardized and are now open to innovators from any background. Modularity means that an innovator doesn’t need access to the mechanism of pricing in order to to build a responsive electric-car charger; she just needs to anticipate that dynamic pricing will eventually emerge as a service to which her machine can connect.


Ten years ago, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) had 20 generators on its network — big power plants that produced reliable electrical output at the command of human operators. Now, says Michael Niggli, the company’s president and COO, it’s got 2,000 generating sources, and could have 60,000 in another decade. Those include every solar installation and wind turbine connected to SDG&E’s grid — power sources whose output fluctuates rapidly from minute to minute, flipping thousands of homes and businesses from net electricity producers to net electricity ...

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