The next big smart grid markets


By: SGN Staff


Quick Take: Only a short time ago, I gave you my  contrarian prediction that the smart grid might be poised for an uptick. Now Research and Markets is out with a study that gives more details on new areas for growth. They've pinpointed 35 countries that are NOT in North America, Western Europe and East Asia. But at least half of them DO have regulatory frameworks in place to support rapid deployments.

- By Jesse Berst


Smart grid activity has so far been focused primarily in North America, Western Europe and East Asia. These markets represent more than 95% of the current installed base of smart meters. But many countries in the rest of the world are positioning themselves to quickly catch up. The 35 countries in this study have all begun to explore smart grid deployments and in many cases have advanced regulatory frameworks and extensive pilot projects in place.

These countries were particularly active in 2012, collectively deploying over 1.3 million smart meters. Meanwhile, with GDP growth rates more than double those in the developed world (3.8% per year from 2012 - 2016 compared with 1.2% for North America, Western Europe, and Japan), these countries will have the funds available to undertake significant electric infrastructure modernizations in the coming years.

The results of this study show that nearly one-half of the countries are already well positioned for investment in smart grid technologies. This means that they not only have well-developed regulatory frameworks, but also have the underlying market conditions (through high non-technical loss rates and enough high-income residents) to justify smart meter deployments.

In addition to regulatory frameworks and distribution loss rates, further key criteria for assessing smart grid potential include existing industry structures, current electricity prices (and whether or not they are subsidized), financing mechanisms, the potential for operational benefits by reducing meter reading costs, and other elements driving smart grid development. Almost all of the Central/Eastern European (CEE) countries studied meet these criteria, while some countries in Latin America, Middle East/North Africa, and Southeast Asia do, as well. Meanwhile, the other countries in this study show the potential to progress quickly over the course of the next decade.

All of the 35 countries in this study can be expected to begin smart grid deployments over the course of the next decade, opening up a total potential market of more than 546 million meters by 2022 (based on forecast meter growth rates). Of these, about 27% are already under some form of regulatory mandate or target by 2022.