Smart grid projects are growing at a rapid pace around the world. Government and privately-owned utilities are both deploying smart meters and other smart infrastructure to help with balancing power supply with demand, especially as more renewable energy projects are connected to the grid.
Asia will see the greatest growth by 2015, with spending expected to increase by 33.7 percent. Backing that up, another recent report stated that China was set to spend $100 billion on smart grid infrastructure over the next five years, including the deployment of 300 million smart meters by 2015. This is great news as up to a quarter of the country's wind energy projects have yet to be connected to the grid. Increasing investment in smart grid technology will help all of that clean energy come online smoothly and start replacing dirtier sources of energy.
In North America, as investments in smart meter deployments expand, the next wave of spending will be on demand response technology that uses the information gathered from smart meters to automatically manage and respond to demand peaks and brings the power plants (renewable and otherwise) into the loop. Hawaii Electric Co. is currently participating in a pilot program for automated demand response technology linked to a wind farm. As more wind and solar farms are completed around the country, we'll have a greater need for these tools.
Not the biggest spender now, Europe is expected to really start shelling out smart grid investments as the EU's 2020 deadline approaches for a 20 percent increase in renewable energy and a 20 percent increase in energy efficiency.