If the Smart Grid is to be truly smart and deliver energy efficiency, it will have to rely on swarms of wireless sensors scattered across our work and living spaces, providing continuous feedback of our energy usage.
The problem is, even the tiny low-power sensors consume some power. And replacing a few hundred or even thousand batteries in our buildings every couple years is neither green nor realistic.
Enter energy-harvesting technology, which in theory will be able to capture slight vibrations, motion or other kinetic energy to keep the sensors humming. ZigBee, a low-power wireless sensor standard for home automation, will soon have its own energy-harvesting specification. And ZigBee is already factoring into the forthcoming Smart Grid standards big time, so problem solved, right?
The folks at the EnOcean Alliance say “not so fast,” claiming they’re way ahead of the energy-harvesting curve with their own technology. Looks like it’s shaping into a fun standards Donnybrooker. Amy Westervelt at the Earth2Tech blog has a great rundown of the energy harvesting smackdown.