Energy is a big, expensive problem.
Global energy consumption will reach 20-trillion kilowatt-hours this year—and it's expected to grow another 10 trillion by 2035. A lot of power plants will need to be built to meet this demand, costing nearly $10 trillion. Another $7 trillion will go towards making our electrical grid smarter, more efficient, and more secure.¹
But these aren't problems we can just throw money at. It'll take a lot of smart people to invent the products and technologies needed to bring our power grid into the twenty-first century.
¹International Energy Agency.
The electrical infrastructure is quickly evolving to meet the demands of tomorrow. Intelligence, security, and flexibility are being integrated, raising new design priorities for equipment engineers.
Designing a smarter platform. Nearly one billion smart meters will be installed by 2020, along with a whole network of concentrators, repeaters, and backhaul systems.* With so many parts from so many vendors, interoperability is a significant challenge. Manufacturers need standards-based solutions that are flexible enough to meet requirements in multiple markets.
Securing the power grid. The infrastructure that powers our cities is more vulnerable than ever. Embedded smart-grid equipment like smart meters require robust security to protect critical utility assets and data. New standards are emerging, requiring system designers to implement multiple layers of security to thwart both physical and cyber attacks.
Meeting tomorrow's needs, today. We’ve only begun to realize what’s possible with these new technologies. Right now, utilities benefit from reading and controlling meters without sending out a truck. In the future, the business model will change, as utilities buy locally generated energy such as solar from customers. The grid demands equipment that’s ready for these usage models. Designers need products that push the limits of what’s possible today into tomorrow.
At Maxim Integrated, we're pulling together critical system functions to make the smart grid an affordable vision.
Maxim's products are found at the heart of over 100 million smart meters. Customers choose our system-on-chip (SoC) solutions over analog front-ends (AFEs) because they offer a flexible platform that can be quickly programmed to meet a range of market demands. Meanwhile, world-class metrology accuracy ensures that today's equipment is able to meet tomorrow's performance requirements.
Products we're working on today will take this integration even further, ultimately bringing the metrology, communications, and security processors together into a single chip.
Smart grids demand fast, reliable communications, whether they're over noisy powerline channels or crowded wireless spectrum.
In 2008, we invented G3-PLC, the world's most robust powerline-communications technology. A globally accepted standard for smart meter communications, G3-PLC achieves high-speed communication while integrating robust mechanisms to enable utilities to reach more customers using less equipment. We're now integrating this technology into our metrology SoCs to provide a more complete system solution.
In a connected world, smart-grid equipment designers must consider security at the earliest stages of design. Today, this means secure microcontrollers that support multiple encryption engines, tamper reaction, and increased manufacturing and IP security. In the future, it will mean micros that do all measurement, encryption, and communications in a single chip. This integration will yield significant security benefits, avoiding unnecessary data transmission between ICs.