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Smart meters to reach 302.5 million installed units by 2015, report says

The worldwide installed base of smart meters will reach 302.5 million by 2015, according to a new report.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor on

The worldwide installed base of smart meters will reach 302.5 million by 2015, according to a new report.

New research from analyst firm Berg Insight says that smart meters, which give statistical insight into electricity usage in the home or office, will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 31.1 percent between 2009 and 2015.

Here's what Berg analyst Tobias Ryberg has to say in the report:

During the next five years, penetration rates for smart metering technology are projected to increase from around 15–20 percent today to nearly 50 percent in Europe and North America, while Asia-Pacific is projected to soar from less than 1 percent to 25 percent by 2015. By the mid-2010s, the majority of all electricity meters shipped in the world's leading economies is expected to have advanced functionalities and networking capabilities.

Berg predicts that growth will continue in the second half of this decade, "with many markets approaching 100 percent penetration by 2020."

A lofty prediction, indeed.

How will it happen? Berg says there are several common drivers, including:

  • Increasing efficiency demands on the electricity sector.
  • The implementation of energy policies related to power conservation, renewable generation and the security of supply.

But the biggest driving entity is the national government. Several European nations now require nationwide rollouts of smart meters before the end of the decade -- Berg predicts that 111.4 million European households will have smart meters by 2015 -- and of course the U.S. is offering federal grants as incentives for the emerging sector.

Additionally, China and South Korea are both making moves through state-controlled national utilities. (Talk about cutting out the middle man.)

"Smart metering is now a globally accepted mature mainstream technology," Ryberg said in a statement. "All over the world we can see how IT and telecommunication has transformed the metering industry from a business of mechanical devices and manual labor to an arena for state-of-the-art technology in everything from wireless networking to data warehousing and complex system integration."

There is one catch, however. Katie Fehrenbacher at Earth2Tech notes that smart meters remain a small percentage of the total smart grid market, according to Pike Research analyst Clint Wheelock -- just 11 percent of the total smart grid revenue, bested by areas such as transmission infrastructure and distribution automation.

But there's no doubt that smart meters are much cheaper and easier to implement. And once they are, the smart grid has a foundation in place on which to expand.

As Berg itself says in an executive summary (.pdf) on Western Europe:

Smart metering is widely regarded as the cornerstone for future smart grids. In the history of metering technology, smart metering represents the third stage in a chain of developments spanning more than 100 years. Manually read meters have been around since the advent of the utility industry in the late 19th century. Over the last three decades, automated meter reading (AMR) based on one-way or two-way communication has evolved. Smart metering broadens the scope of AMR beyond just meter readings with additional features enabled by two-way data communication.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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