It's clear that the smart grid still has some challenges to overcome in developed regions such as the US. Securing the grid is becoming a growing concern, and the great number of legacy agencies already involved in the US grid makes a single solution unlikely, at least in the near-term. (See: Securing the Smart Grid.)
Building a smart grid from the ground up has the potential to eliminate many of these legacy problems. According to a recent Northeast Group study, the grid-related opportunities in emerging markets are considerable.
The majority of smart grid activity to date has taken place in well known markets such as North America, Western Europe, and East Asia, according to the report. These developed markets represent more than 95 percent of the current installed base of smart meters worldwide, says the report.
Emerging markets, however, will spend as much as $49 billion on smart metering alone, the Northeast Group predicts. These markets include many of the “sweet spots” already targeted by electronics companies, such as Central/Eastern Europe, Latin America, the Middle East/North Africa, South Africa, and Southeast Asia. According to the report:
- Smart grid offers emerging markets a number of potential benefits. Countries can improve overall electric utility reliability, reduce electricity theft rates, manage surging demand and incorporate new sources of renewable energy. Modernizing the electricity infrastructure will be increasingly important as these economies grow quickly over the next several years. The 25 countries in the study are forecast to see average annual GDP growth of 4.3% over the next five years, compared with 1.7% in the developed world.
Nearly a dozen of these countries are positioned to begin large-scale grid deployments within the next few years, the study notes. These include Brazil, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Mexico, Poland, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, and the United Arab Emirates. Most of these nations are also being explored by electronics companies as alternatives to manufacturing in Asia. For electronics, opportunities exist in both the equipment and infrastructure markets, says the Northeast Group. Specifically:
- Smart metering – or advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) – deployments will make up the majority of initial smart grid activity, creating significant meter hardware, communications, IT, and professional services markets across the 25 countries. Following AMI, there is strong potential for distribution automation, substation automation, and home energy management technologies, including distributed solar generation and electric vehicle supply equipment.