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A lull in announcements for new, large smart grid projects led to a slight decline in global smart meter shipments from the first quarter of 2013 (1Q'13) to 2Q'13, according to Navigant Research's latest Smart Grid Deployment Tracker.

Although the research firm reports that smart meter shipments in the first half of 2013 grew in comparison to the last half of 2012, the total volume of shipments dropped from 25.9 million meters in 1Q'13 to 25.5 million meters in 2Q'13. Navigant estimates that total smart meter shipments for 3Q'12 through 2Q'13 amounted to 97.7 million units.

According to Navigant, in North America, the pace of meter shipments continued to slow down from previous quarters. The research firm notes that the most significant growth for smart grids was seen between 2009 and 2012 and that many smart metering projects that had been fueled by U.S. federal stimulus money have come to an end.

As a result, Navigant says there were few large-scale smart meter deployments announced in North America during the first half of this year. Most large utilities in the region interested in pursuing smart grid upgrades are in the process of completing smart meter rollouts, Navigant adds. The exception was Illinois-based utility Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) - which has moved ahead with the deployment of nearly 4 million smart meters, supplied by General Electric (GE) - across Chicago after winning government approval.

At the end of 2Q'13 in North America, Landis+Gyr maintained its leading position among meter vendors, according to Navigant. The company's cumulative share of planned meters in the quarter was 25%, and similar to recent quarters, GE and Itron followed closely behind, each with a 20% vendor selection share. GE's project with ComEd boosted its share for the quarter.

Navigant notes that North American utilities are expected to continue pursuing greater efficiency and reliability through data analytics and IT improvements, as well as other distribution upgrades, such as meter-enabled automation and substation/line improvements.

Outside of North America, other regional markets have made smart grid investments based on the enactment of efficiency and CO2 reduction policies, Navigant continues.

The report says that smart meter projects in Europe are poised to accelerate in coming quarters. The U.K. has mandated a full rollout of smart meters and other smart grid improvements to deregulated utilities, Spanish utilities continue to deploy smart meters in sizable volumes, and France is just at the beginning of its large nationwide deployment.

Navigant finds that the Asia Pacific region leads the market in terms of volume of smart meter installations, with China still accounting for the vast majority (89%) of global shipments, as deployments in the country continue to outpace that in other regions. China is aggressively rolling out smart meters (with varying levels of technology), and Japan is moving closer to large-scale deployments as it deals with energy supply issues.

The full report, Smart Grid Deployment Tracker 3Q13, is available here.

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