Global smart meter shipments slowed considerably in the first quarter of 2012, most noticeably in North America. While several nations remain installation hot spots, dominated by China, the overall market is cooling off.
15.1 million smart meters were shipped across the world in first quarter 2012, down nearly 15 percent from fourth quarter 2011, reports Pike Research’s most recent Smart Grid Deployment Tracker. However, this slowdown was “inevitable,” says Pike, noting the “fast pace of deployments was never going to be sustained.”
North America trending downward
“The decline in smart meter deployments was particularly noticeable in North America, where a rollout peak was reached last year,” said Neil Strother, senior analyst at Pike.
North America’s 16 percent smart meter slowdown is largely attributable to the wind down of stimulus funding, concludes the report. In addition, many ambitious utility deployment programs have been completed or are winding down, and a secondary wave of new projects has not appeared on the horizon. Overall, the North American region still accounted for 19 percent of overall smart meter shipments in the quarter.
China slows, still leads world
China, which still dominates global shipments with 70 percent of the market, also saw a noticeable reduction across the first three months of 2012. Pike attributes this reduction from a “frenetic pace” of deployment to a nearly one percent reduction in gross domestic product from 4Q 2011 to 1Q 2012.
While the two largest smart meter markets have declined, several noticeable new deployment announcements were made in the first quarter, somewhat buoying the industry.
- Japan’s TEPCO said it would deploy 17 million smart meters by 2019 in an attempt to cut costs $1.3 billion over the next decade.
- In Spain, Iberdrola announced it would contact with seven companies to supply one million smart meters by 2018.
- In the U.S., Michigan utility DTE Energy announced it would deploy an additional 450,000 smart meters by 2013, on top of a previously announced 800,000.
- The Caribbean Utilities Company announced it would deploy 28,000 smart meters among its customers on Grand Cayman Island by the end of 2013.
North American market breakdown
Pike’s analysis also ranked market share for individual vendors in the North American market. While six companies registered a significant percentage of the market, two companies clearly lead the smart meter industry in this region.
Landis+Gyr remained the leader among all vendors with 26 percent of cumulative meter manufacturer vendor selection share, mainly on the strength of a contract with Canadian utility Hydro-Quebec through 2017. Itron ranked second with 22 percent of the market, depending largely on contracts with utilities CenterPoint and BC Hydro. GE Energy and Sensus also recorded double-digit market shares at 16 and 15 percent, respectively.
Image courtesy of Itron
Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy public relations company based in Washington, D.C.