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Turkey prepares to hand $5bn to US biz for intelligent electricity

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Turkey will spend $5bn over the next two years creating a smart grid to cope with increased energy consumption, and buying plenty of American kit with which to do it.

The US consulate in Istanbul put out the figure, Bloomberg notes, as it promotes a two-day conference on the subject. The conference itself is sponsored by the US Trade and Development Agency, which will see US companies pitching intelligent networks to Turkish utilities, and government reps, as well as discussing the regulatory environment which will be necessary to meet Turkey's energy needs.

This isn't just about Smart Meters, which only manage consumption in cloud-cuckoo land where everyone uses less power thanks to an LCD screen smiling at them: this is about generating power in the right place and delivering across the country at the right time, while making sure no one steals it en route.

The latter is such a problem that a company like Awesense is now offering to trace thefts for free, in exchange for a cut of the saved revenue. Awesense is a US startup which uses clamps placed on electricity lines, measuring current flow by induction and capable of creating a dynamic mesh (in the ISM band at 915MHz) to get the data back to the office. Check the flow at two ends of a wire - and if the loss is higher than predicted, you've found a thief. Just move the clamps and you'll know where they are.

Awesense is already involved in Turkey, but is typical of the way an intelligent electricity grid can be more efficient without relying on consumers to use less. Last year Turkish energy consumption rise by more than 5 per cent, while production only grew 4.2 per cent, so better solutions are needed.

But creating a Smart Grid will mean working together, and the Istanbul skyline is (as far as your correspondent is aware) the only one in the world graced with multiple TV transmission masts, because the broadcasters couldn't come to a sharing agreement, which bodes badly for cooperative agreements.

American companies will have high hopes of selling kit into Turkey, and following the historical route into the Middle East and beyond - Turkey will make an excellent showcase for what a smart grid can achieve, assuming it can achieve it. ®

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