Global electricity networks could become smart grids that can help us monitor and control our energy usage, if plans from net firm Cisco take off.
The giant US firm, whose technology helps underpin the net, is building a two-way link into electricity grids. Smart grids would allow devices to communicate with utility firms to give an accurate view of energy use that could cut CO2 emissions by 211m tonnes. Cisco believes the market could be worth up to $20 billion a year. The basic premise is to link different parts of the electrical grid - from a single home to the largest of power stations - using a customised network based on Internet Protocol (IP). Cisco say the proposal would be a "once in a generation capital investment". With the rising cost of electrical power and concerns about how that power is generated - especially when it comes to fossil fuels - a number of other firms are also making a bid to modernise the electrical networks.
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