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Smart grid investments rose by 7pc at a global level in 2012, with utilities forking out almost US$14bn – that’s according to new figures from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), with China and US leading the charge for such investments.
The latest figures from Bloomberg, released yesterday, also predict that smart grid investments will have a 10pc growth rate for the next five years. Bloomberg anticipates that the market will almost double to reach US$25.2bn per year by 2018.
Last year, utilities worldwide spent US$13.9bn on smart-grid technologies, such as advanced metering and fault management, said Bloomberg.
It said roughly half of this figure (US$7.1bn) was spent on smart metering and related infrastructure and services. Distribution automation was the next biggest category, followed by projects in areas such as demand response, home energy management and electric vehicle charging.
Bloomberg said the US remains the largest regional market for smart-grid technologies and services, with US utilities spending US$4.3bn in 2012, a figure down from a 2011 spend of US$5.1bn.
However, the research points to how China is closing the gap. Bloomberg said China raised its investment in 2012 from US$2.8bn to US$3.2bn. It said this was largely the result of major smart metering procurement by China's national state grid company. Bloomberg also predicts China will overtake the US as the largest smart grid market in 2013.
As a whole, smart grid investments in Asia reached US$5.6bn in 2012, with Bloomberg citing new digital energy initiatives in Japan, India, Korea and other south-east Asian countries.
Smart grid spending in Europe was US$1.4bn, up from US$1.1bn in 2011.
Bloomberg said the modest investment was because progress on the European smart metering directive remains mixed at the member state level.
However, it forecasts that smart grid investments will pick up rapidly after 2014 in Europe as a result of countries such as the UK and France beginning major deployments.
Bloomberg also predicts an acceleration in investments in smarter distribution networks in Europe.
Latin America, meanwhile, remains an early-stage market for smart-grid technology, according to Bloomberg. In total, the region spent US$0.4bn on smart grid investments in 2012, but Bloomberg expects this figure to grow due to the speeding up of national grid modernisation and metering programmes.
Albert Cheung, practice head for energy smart technologies at BNEF, said growth in the smart-grid industry remains strong. He said Asia and Europe will be responsible for the greatest spending increases between 2013 and 2018.
"Utilities, policy-makers and regulators are increasingly aware of the economic, environmental and reliability benefits of smart-grid technologies," he added.
Smart grid abstract image via Shutterstock