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Annual shipments of smart electricity meters will pass the 100 million mark globally next year, up from an estimated 82 million units this year, and remain there until at least 2017, finds a new report from IHS Inc. By 2017, these units are expected to account for almost $5 billion in revenue for meter manufacturers.

The report, entitled "The World Market for Smart Electricity Meters - 2013," says the projection comes despite a rapidly decreasing North American market given the drying up of government funding, watered-down meter legislation in Latin America and continuing delays to the long-expected smart meter rollouts in the European Union (EU).

“While it is true that growth in many of the traditional markets for advanced metering solutions has been disappointing in recent years, there is quite a bit of good news as well,” says Jacob Pereira, IHS analyst for smart utilities infrastructure.

“China’s massive infrastructure-modernization effort includes a continuing countrywide overhaul of old metering systems, and that can make a big difference in a country of well over 400 million metering endpoints,” Pereira continues. “In addition, recent announcements from some of the larger EU economies have added clarity to when their long-anticipated rollouts will begin in earnest, charging up the market.”

Even so, the majority of communication-enabled meters being installed in Chinese homes and businesses might not meet the “smart” criterion for many people, according to the report.

“These meters are simple one-way communicating devices used for automatic meter reading, not the advanced functions usually associated with the word ‘smart,’” Pereira notes. “However, the European meter rollouts expected to start up within the next few years will generally incorporate multiple other features.”

The report says news of future growth is sure to be a relief to many manufacturers that have become used to dismal news in recent years, such as the end to U.S. stimulus funding, Brazil’s disappointing meter mandates and multiple delays to European rollouts.

“The market for communicating meters isn’t stopping, or even slowing, for that matter. It’s just changing locations,” explains Pereira.



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