South America is expected to become a key smart grid investment location over the next decade, reaching $38.1 billion by 2025.
According to new research by Northeast Group, South America is expected to double down on smart grid infrastructure, in an effort to combat a number of issues plaguing the continent, including electricity theft, poor reliability, and operational inefficiencies. Specifically, according to Northeast, approximately 9% of South America’s electricity is stolen — a figure which jumps up to over 30% in some territories. Furthermore, the authors of the report highlight the country’s inherent attractiveness as an investment location, “with developing regulatory frameworks and core business case indicators that point towards immediate benefits from smart grid infrastructure.”
Subsequently, Northeast Group predicts that the region’s total cumulative investment into smart grid infrastructure between 2015 to 2025 will reach $38.1 billion, and include investment in advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), distribution automation (DA), wide area measurement (WAM), home energy management (HEM), information technology, and battery storage.
The authors of the report note that “smart grid infrastructure is now viewed as a solution to many of the challenges” facing the nations throughout South America. Eight of the ten countries already have pilot projects in place, though unsurprisingly, it is Brazil that is leading the way, with pilot projects dating back to the mid-2000s, as well as recently announced plans for over 3 million new advanced metering devices, and a variety of smart city projects.
“Brazil is by far the largest market in the region for smart grid investment,” said Ben Gardner, President of Northeast Group. “After several false starts, the country is now beginning large-scale deployments. In just the past year, Brazilian utilities have announced deployments of over three million smart meters and will invest $25.6 billion over the next ten years.”
Brazil’s government has introduced regulations for smart meter deployments, and even gone so far as to create incentives for residents to install small-scale solar PV in addition to their smart meters.
As has been played out in the solar and wind industries, however, Brazil is by no means the only South American country making moves in the smart meter industry.
“Beyond Brazil, countries such as Colombia, Ecuador, Chile and Argentina are serious about grid modernization and planning significant investment,” added Gardner. “In total, South America will invest $22.6 billion in smart metering, $7.2 billion in distribution automation and $8.3 billion in other smart grid market segments over the forecast period.”
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