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Smart grid infrastructure investment by 45 emerging market countries - including Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - over the next decade will reach $274.9 billion, outpacing developed countries, according to a new study by Washington, D.C.-based smart grid market intelligence firm Northeast Group LLC.

The annual study, Emerging Markets Smart Grid: Outlook 2014, finds that investments will be aimed at reducing electricity theft, improving reliability and incorporating renewable energy into electricity grids. Northeast adds that these investments will include smart metering and advancements for transmission and distribution grids.

The firm notes that the 45 countries have already deployed a total of 9.5 million smart meters with two-way communications, and this number is set to reach 523 million by 2023. In 2014 alone, Northeast reports, the 45 countries are projected to deploy 5.6 million smart meters.

In addition, the firm says electricity theft costs these countries $47 billion annually, and investments in distribution automation will cumulatively reach $118.8 billion by 2023.

"Large countries, such as India and Turkey, have provisional smart meter deployment targets, and new financing sources are developing," comments Ben Gardner, president of Northeast Group. "In 2013, the World Bank announced a $180 million smart metering project in Uzbekistan, the [European Bank for Reconstruction and Development] earmarked $251 million for smart grid investment in Poland and Brazil is completing a national financing program that could release over $1 billion in smart grid funding."

"Overall, Latin America, [Central and Eastern Europe] and [the Middle East and North Africa] represent large near-term opportunities, with India set to grow in the longer term," he adds.

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