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The number of smart meter deployments across 35 emerging market countries in 2013 will be more than double the number of deployments in 2012, finds a new study from Northeast Group. With growth continuing throughout the decade, these countries - which include regions in central/eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, Middle East/North Africa, South Africa and Southeast Asia - will represent a smart metering market of $56 billion by 2022.

"These 35 emerging market countries were active in deploying smart meters and associated smart grid infrastructure in 2012, with over 1.3 million [advanced metering infrastructure (AMI)] meters deployed," says Northeast Group. "This activity does not even include the mega-markets of China and India, which are not covered in this forecast. A number of emerging market utilities have already announced large projects for 2013, fueling our expectations that the number of smart meter deployments will more than double next year."

In recent years, smart grid activity has largely been focused in North America, Western Europe and East Asia, primarily due to higher electricity demand profiles in these regions, the report says. But smart grid infrastructure offers emerging markets a diverse array of benefits as well, including improving reliability, reducing non-technical losses and incorporating renewable sources of energy. As smart grid financing models and regulatory frameworks have improved, emerging market countries are catching up with their more developed peers.

"Regulatory development was somewhat mixed in 2012, but positive on the whole," continues Northeast Group. "In particular, emerging market countries are cooperating with more developed countries to establish interoperability standards for smart meters, helping reduce a considerable amount of risk from these investments. This will facilitate the entry of leading international vendors into the market, many of whom already have local partners and are established in these countries. In fact, 10 leading international vendors accounted for over 90 percent of deployments across the 35 countries in 2012.

"One negative sign was that some emerging market countries backed away from previously announced deployment targets, but these targets are not out of reach if smart meter prices decline and financing improves,” the research group continues. “Utilities and governments are learning important lessons from widespread pilot projects, which should lead to clearer smart meter regulations over the next few years.”

All 35 countries analyzed in the study are projected to begin smart grid deployments in the coming decade. In fact, 14 of the 35 countries are well positioned to begin large-scale smart grid deployments within the next one to three years, the report says. These include Brazil, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Mexico, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, and the United Arab Emirates. Some of these countries are already in the early stages of large-scale rollouts.

Smart metering deployments will be the first step of smart grid activity in most of these countries, creating significant markets for the various AMI components across the 35 countries. These components include meter hardware, communications, IT (meter data management and customer information systems), and professional services markets. Following AMI, Northeast Group says there is strong potential for distribution automation, substation automation, wide area measurement and home energy management technologies, including distributed generation and electric vehicle supply equipment.


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