China preps for 'massive' smart meter deployment

Despite a tough economy, smart meters continue to roll out in North America and China, according to a new report from Pike Research.

The number of smart meter deployments increased significantly in 2011, particularly in North America and China, according to a new report.

Pike Research says that utility companies continue to harbor interest in rolling out "intelligent," dynamic meters, communications modules and data management services to better leverage their existing infrastructure and make operations more efficient in a tough economy.

Smart meters allow utility companies to gather individual data on a regular basis without the need for a human meter reader, allowing them to better understand usage patterns with the hope of more accurately meeting expected demand.

Three major utility companies in North America announced advanced metering infrastructure, or AMI, deployments in Q2 and Q3 of 2011: Michigan's Consumers Energy partnered with SmartSynch to serve 1.8 million customers; Canada's BC Hydro selected Itron to supply 1.8 million new meters over the next two years; and Canada's Hydro-Quebec chose Landis+Gyr to supply 3.75 million smart meters over the next five years.

Global smart meter shipments rose 5.3 percent quarter over quarter, reaching 19.2 million in Q3 2011, according to Pike. The leading firms in North America by market share: Landis+Gyr (25%), Itron (22%), Sensus (16%), GE Energy (16%) and Elster (6%), in descending order.

"Projects continue to expand in the United States and Canada, and we are seeing the beginning stages of a massive smart meter deployment in China," senior analyst Neil Strother said.

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