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The market for all types of sensors used in smart grid applications will grow from $26.4 billion this year to $36.5 billion in 2019 and nearly $46.8 billion by 2021, according to a new report from NanoMarkets.

As the company explains, smart grids promise to solve many problems in managing today's electric grid infrastructure by enabling broad knowledge and control of operations at all levels, from generation to transmission and distribution to end-use. All of these multiple sensing, monitoring and control functions depend on real-time collection and communication of a wide range of data throughout the grid - which translates into enormous opportunities for various types of sensors.

By sensor application, NanoMarkets says it expects advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) applications accounting for the vast majority of the market throughout the forecasting period: $17.8 billion in 2014, growing to $22.7 billion in 2021. This dominance is expected to decrease toward the end of the forecast period, however, as smart meters reach the saturation point in many leading markets.

NanoMarkets says it foresees the biggest growth over the forecast period in sensors for demand response, which will surge from $1.7 billion today to $10.9 billion in 2021 and become the second-largest market for smart grid sensors. The company notes that it also predicts high growth rates in sensors for SCADA, lead management, energy storage and renewable energy.

By sensor type, the company expects the best growth trajectory for energy conservation sensors through the forecast period ($521 million in 2014, $3.6 billion in 2021), followed by humidity and temperature sensors. Current sensors will account for the second-largest share in the overall market by 2021 ($4.3 billion), followed by oil moisture sensors ($3.8 billion) and energy conservation sensors.

Looking at regional markets for sensors in smart grids, NanoMarkets calculates North America accounting for 30% ($7.9 billion) of the worldwide market, followed by Europe ($6.6 billion, 25%), China ($5.2 billion, 20%) and Japan ($2.6 billion, 10%). However, the company expects the fastest adoption rate of smart grid technologies including sensors to happen in China during the forecast period - by 2021 China ($10.8 billion) is anticipated to overtake Europe ($10.1 billion) for the second-largest share of the sensor market behind the U.S. ($13.1 billion), with Japan well behind ($4.4 billion).



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