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According to Berg Insight, the worldwide installed base of smart electricity meters will hit over 300 million by 2015. The research firm states that over the next five years, smart meter technology is projected to move from 15-20% market penetration to almost 50% in Europe and North America, while Asia-Pacific will go from less than 1% to as much as 25%. But considering how many homes are hooked up to an electrical grid across the globe, and that smart meters are essential to get a smart grid up and running, can this be considered quick enough progress?Perhaps it does mark progress, considering how cumbersome it has been for the smart grid community to create standards so all the pieces of the technological pie -- from meters to utilities to power generation facilities -- can talk to one another. And considering how reluctant some communities have been in receiving smart meter installations, due to concerns over security risks and accurate billing.
Still, progress is indeed slow enough that other companies are already making leapfrog moves that could change the direction of the smart grid -- or at least provide energy-savvy consumers with options for monitoring and minimizing their consumption. For example, Google has created an easy-to-follow dashboard, PowerMeter, for users to follow their energy use, and partnered up with The Energy Detective (TED) to make tracking energy easy. They're also making moves to partner with utilities to provide usage information and feedback to consumers. Microsoft is not too far behind with their Hohm dashboard and Blue Line device.
But while these are great solutions for now, the smart grid is a much more complicated beast that will connect everything about our power supplies, enabling more intelligent use of energy and more renewable energy sources. That's why it is important that meters get installed, standards are agreed upon, and technology put in place from start to finish, and fast. Hitting just 302.5 million smart meters worldwide by 2015 doesn't sound very speedy.
The Berg Insight report outlines issues areas around the world face with developing the smart grid, including, "increasing efficiency demands on the electricity sector to the implementation of energy policies related to power conservation, renewable generation and the security of supply. National governments play a key role in the adoption of smart meters through new future-oriented energy policies, addressing these issues."
Smart meters are a tiny fraction of the puzzle, and if they're rolling out this slowly, we are a little concerned about the speed at which governments will move with necessary policies and regulations.
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