China overtakes US for first time as global smart grid spending rises to $14.9 billion

19 February 2014

BEIJING: International investment in smart grids reached a staggering US$14.9 billion in 2013, a 5% increase on 2012 levels, latest data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) reveals.

China augmented its spend to US$4.3 billion in 2012 and as a result the nation’s investment now accounts for almost a third of the world’s total spend on smart grids, which now totals US$14.9 billionTo date, China has installed almost 250 million smart meters and has plans to push back the roll-out's completion date to 2017 to facilitate further expansion.

In contrast, North American smart grid investment fell by 33% to US$3.6 billion, a decline which resulted in the Asian nation taking first place in the global investment race.

Smart metering was responsible for just under half of the total smart grid spending worldwide, but global spending on distribution automation–the use of technology to locate and fix faults on the smart grid--increased by US$1 billion to US$5.4 billion in 2013.

Europe: The 'Sleeping Giant’

The BNEF findings also highlight the prominent role that Europe will play in smart grid development over the coming decade. The energy analysts believe that the combined force of the Asian and European markets will accelerate growth through to 2020.

By the end of the decade it is anticipated that Europe will have installed 180 million meters, a significant increase on the 55 million in operation presently. Of the EU28, Spain will continue to distinguish itself as the most active market, but it is expected that the UK, Germany and France will increase their presence in the short-term.

Colin McKerracher, senior energy-smart technologies analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, is positive about the potential for smart grids: “Global investment in the smart grid increased relatively modestly last year after five years of rapid growth. But the fundamental drivers of the smart grid–greater grid reliability, further integration of renewable energy, and improved demand-side management–are stronger than ever."

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By Alana Ryan


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