Utility spending globally on smart grid technologies reached $13.9 billion in 2012, up 7 percent on the previous year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Further, the company expects just over 10 percent compound annual growth for the next five years, nearly doubling the market to $25.2billion per annum by 2018.
Roughly half of 2012’s spend – $7.1billion – was spent on smart metering and related infrastructure and services. The next biggest category was distribution automation, followed by integrated demonstration projects in areas such as demand response, home energy management and smart electric vehicle charging.
The largest regional market for smart grid technologies and services remains the U.S., where utilities spent $4.3billion in 2012, down from $5.1billion in 2011. However, China is closing the gap, last year raising its investment from $2.8billion to $3.2billion, largely on the back of major smart metering procurement by the national State Grid company. China is expected to overtake the U.S. as the largest smart grid market in 2013, as stimulus funded projects in the U.S. conclude and Chinese investment continues to grow. Asia as a whole grew its investment to $5.6billion in 2012, with new digital energy initiatives getting underway in Japan, India, Korea and various Southeast Asian nations.
Smart grid spending in Europe was a relatively modest $1.4billion, up from $1.1billion in 2011, as progress on the European smart metering directive remains mixed at the member state level. However, investments are expected to pick up rapidly after 2014 as a number of countries such as the U.K. and France begin major deployments, and investments in smarter distribution networks also accelerate.
Latin America remains a nascent market for smart grid technology, though regulatory progress has been made in Brazil in the last year. Just $0.4billion was spent in the region in 2012, but this is expected to grow as national grid modernization and metering programs gain pace.
“Growth in the smart grid industry remains strong,” commented Albert Cheung, practice head for energy smart technologies at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
“Utilities, policymakers and regulators are increasingly aware of the economic, environmental and reliability benefits of smart grid technologies. These enable consumers to make better informed choices about how they use energy. They also improve the reliability of the grid and allow it to integrate larger amounts of intermittent and distributed renewable power.”
Bloomberg’s 2018 projection represents a slight downward adjustment on previous forecasts, due to delays in the rollout of existing smart metering and smart grid programs in a number of regions.