The smart electric meter market has entered a slow growth phase and worldwide shipments of smart meters will peak in 2018, at 131 million annually, before slowing to 114 million by 2022, according to Navigant Research in a new report.
Deployments of new smart meters have declined in North America, following several years of large scale rollouts bolstered by U.S. federal stimulus funding. In other regions, previously announced large scale smart metering programs have been delayed in the near term, particularly in the United Kingdom and Brazil, where regulators have slowed the pace of new deployments.
The one big exception is China, where a massive long term plan involving not only new meters, but also major upgrades to transmission systems, distribution networks, and generating capabilities, continues apace. There new units are being installed in the tens of millions per year.
“Despite the current slowdown, smart meter shipments will continue to rise over the next several years, with penetration rates rising steadily in North America and in Europe.”
In the U.S., a number of utilities continue to explore the business case for smart meters. In Europe, both France and U.K. are on the verge of large scale smart meter rollouts, although those projects will not accelerate for another year or so. In Japan, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has taken the first steps toward deploying an expected 27 million new smart meters, though specific meter vendors have not been chosen. Moreover, there are ongoing pilots in other Asia-Pacific countries, in Latin America, and in the Middle East – all indicating new business opportunities are still to come.
In terms of penetration, deployments over the forecast period will lead to a smart meter penetration rate surpassing 80% in North America and in Europe, Navigant forecasts. Driven primarily by China, the forecast penetration rate in Asia-Pacific will reach nearly 70% by 2022. However, in Latin America the penetration rate will be much lower, approaching 30%, while in the Middle East and Africa it is expected to still be less than 10%.