According to new figures from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), global smart grid investment grew to $14.9 billion in 2013, up from $14.2 billion in 2012, and being lead by China, who finished the year as the world’s largest smart grid market.
China’s place at the top comes at the expense of the United States, as the North American market continued to slow and China dollar investment into their smart grid exceeded that of the US, thanks in part to the installation of 62 million smart meters, a market which accounted for just under half of the total smart grid spending worldwide.
China’s investiture into smart grid technology amounted to $4.3 billion during 2013, with a large share going towards the installation of smart meters, bringing their national total up to 250 million. However, the country has indicated that it is aiming to extend the end-date for completing its metering program from 2015 to 2017.
On the flipside, US smart grid spending slowed during 2013, as the North American market shrunk 33% to $3.6 billion during 2013, thanks in part to the conclusion of US stimulus-funded projects.
“Global investment in the smart grid increased relatively modestly last year after five years of rapid growth. But the fundamental drivers of the smart grid – greater grid reliability, further integration of renewable energy, and improved demand-side management – are stronger than ever,” said Colin McKerracher, senior energy-smart technologies analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “Asian and European markets will drive growth through 2020, while in North America the focus will continue to shift from hardware to software as utilities look to squeeze additional value out of the vast amounts of grid data now available.”
China and the US aren’t the only markets when it comes to smart metering, but they are the largest. Bloomberg noticed several “promising signs” during 2013 for the European market, including a large metering contract in the UK, a new tender in France, and the completion of the long-awaited cost benefit analysis in Germany.
Elsewhere, Japan’s utilities are currently in the tendering and procurement stage of their smart meter deployment, while in South America, Brazil’s smart meter deployment has been delayed due to certification and financing challenges.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance sees the following developments in 2014 and beyond:
- Asia still has years of growth ahead. Despite China’s recently announced slowdown in meter installation, China’s 5-10 year meter replacement cycle means that as this major wave of installations finishes in 2017, the first wave of replacements is expected to commence. 2014-15 will bring also an increase in distribution automation spending in China while smart grid activity in Japan, Korea, India and South East Asia will also ramp up.
- The US is entering a second major smart grid phase: information integration. With its growing penetration rates for smart meters and distribution automation, the next phase for the US smart grid is using the new data coming in off the grid to improve areas like outage management, customer segmentation and theft detection.
- Europe is the smart grid’s sleeping giant. Europe has installed only 55m smart meters but this is expected to rise sharply to 180m by 2020. Spain will remain as the most active market in 2014 but large-scale deployments in the UK, Germany and France will begin to ramp up in late 2015.
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