Following the Grid

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.

Check out EBN's Logical Link and Asia Time sections for more in-depth looks at some of these nations.

15 comments on “Following the Grid

  1. DataCrunch
    December 7, 2011

    All countries, but especially emerging countries as well under developed countries could benefit from smart metering.   These countries still suffer from lack of regular power and continuous outages.  Although they require proper infrastructure (which is also lacking), but smart metering could be extremely beneficial to balance and regulate power consumption.  

  2. stochastic excursion
    December 8, 2011

    Improving management and visibility is a definite part of progress in electric power distribution.  Visibility and control encompassing the vast network of wallplug loads beyond the electric meter will introduce what is sure to be an overwhelming complexity to utility companies, which are used to keeping it simple.

    As more people are taking advantage of green tech in the form of localized power sources–in some cases even charging back the utility for surplus power–more people may be increasingly independent of the grid.  This doesn't set aside the need for smarter technology, but calls into question the need for a hub and spoke type of smart infrastructure.

  3. Daniel
    December 8, 2011

    Smart Grid is a novel idea to cater the efficient utilization of energy. It also makes sure that the supply is always there. Any failure in any of the supply chain will be compensated through alternate channel. But I think it’s not so common in most of the countries.

  4. tioluwa
    December 8, 2011

    I think the smart grid still has a long way to go in under developed and developing countries.

    The most critical issues in developing countries are poor management and corruption. these factors can never support the development of the smart grid.

    If these issues are addressed, we could see rapid development in the area of the smart grid, and other areas as well.

  5. bolaji ojo
    December 8, 2011

    Barbara, Securing the grid is one challenge but there's also the problem of installing new smart meters at residences, factories and plants. There's a lot of waste already in the system and I bet we could save more by adopting the latest technologies available for offsite monitoring and installing sensors to switch lights off and on depending upon usage patterns. Utilities and governments have to partner on securing the grid, I am eager to see the rollout of smart meters rather than continuing talk, which is what many of these utilities are still doing.

  6. Barbara Jorgensen
    December 8, 2011

    Absolutely right, Bolaji. With any initiative like this, you have to ask who has skin in the game? Utilities (as they stand now) have a lot to lose if the grid becomes more efficient. Case in point: every summer, my town limits outdoor watering to every other day to conserve water. We did so well that demand for water dropped substantially. So the water department raised our rates. I'd exepct to see a lot more talking before we see the benefits.

  7. Jay_Bond
    December 9, 2011

    One of the biggest issues will be cost, and who pays for it. You are correct that even when we do things to save power, water or any other commodity, somebody loses money and tries to make it up somehow. Our local power company has had plans in place to build a new power plant @ 1.2 billion dollars. This was basically expanding their current plant. After all the time promoting 1400 construction jobs and over 100 permanent jobs, they pulled the plug 2 days ago. They say it will cost 20 million dollars to halt the job, and now they want to charge the customers more to pay for it. If we use less power they just raise the rates, kind of like legalized extortion.

  8. t.alex
    December 9, 2011

    We have heard of smart grid like at least 3 years ago. But till now it is still not so common that we almost forget about it. Standardization? Government effort? Collaboration of companies?

  9. Barbara Jorgensen
    December 9, 2011

    @Jay–argh! That is so typical. And maddening. talex: interest in the grid ebbs and flows…I think it has reignited becuase budgets for 2012 are in the works. I can only speak for the US, but standardization is a big problem. There are a bunch of folks at work it this and they have made progress. But until standards are signed, sealed and delivered, there won't be any ground-breaking, so to speak.

  10. Anand
    December 26, 2011

    All countries, but especially emerging countries as well under developed countries could benefit from smart metering.

    @Dave, you are absolutely correct. Infact in India nearly 30% of the power generated is lost in power theft. I am sure this new technology will help us to reduce problems like power theft.

  11. DataCrunch
    December 26, 2011

    @ anandvy – Interesting.  I didn't realize it was that high in India. Thanks. 

  12. Kunmi
    December 26, 2011

    Extortioning is the prime crime in the developing world when you have to pay for the service you don't really enjoy. There is a country best known to me where you get billed for electricy when you did not even have the power supply. The fact that you have electric cable channelled to your house, you are responsible to pay the estimated bill. Quite unfair at times!

  13. Kunmi
    December 26, 2011

    Greed and corruption are the killers of innovation the development coutries. It is a pity that it will take a long time for some countries to fully adopt the smart grid .

  14. Jay_Bond
    December 27, 2011

    For as many issues we have here in the states, I know they pale in comparison to some of the huge issues going on in developing countries. Extortion is a huge problem, and many times the local governments are involved so you have no recourse.

  15. mario8a
    December 30, 2011

    I see companies moving forward with the implementaton of solar energy, in mexico our neightbors run their operations with solar energu and what they don't use is srnt back to the powrr plant.

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