Global smart meter shipments reached a new high in the second quarter of 2011 with shipments growing 4.1 percent over the first quarter of this year, according to IDC Energy Insights’ Worldwide Quarterly Smart Meter Tracker.
Globally, smart meter manufacturers shipped 5.6 million smart meters bringing the total installed base to just under 90 million. However, despite this growth, recent forecast projections show that 2011 growth will be significantly down compared to 2008, 2009, and 2010.
According to the Smart Meter Tracker results, the smart metering industry is entering a period of global expansion and the global installed smart meter base is forecast to reach nearly 490 million meters by 2015.
The global smart meter market has developed in stages, led by Europe in the early 2000s and driven more recently by the North American market. Now, smart meter shipments are forecast to experience significant growth in EMEA, North America, and the Asia/Pacific regions in 2012, marking the first time since 2007 in which all three regions experienced simultaneous growth. Recent announcements, like the Holley Metering and Echelon deal, show that China is finally getting ready to grow at the pace everyone has been expecting.
“There is no question we are at a point where growth in the coming years will be the result of expanding markets like China and Brazil,” said Ryan Reith, program manager for IDC Energy Insights Smart Meter Tracker. “We certainly expect to see continued momentum from Europe and North America as both regions have pending projects of scale on the horizon. However, what will drive this industry back to years of 50 percent year-on-year growth will undoubtedly be China.”
The smart metering market still faces daily challenges, according to IDC Energy Insights. Best practices are still being established, and utilities and vendors are still learning about security, protocol standardization, interoperability, and customer education. Growth in coming years will introduce a group of new meter manufacturers that don’t have the experience that industry leaders like Landis+Gyr, Itron, Sensus, Elster, and GE all bring to the table.