Scottsdale, Ariz. — The number of smart electric meters deployed worldwide will increase from 76 million units in 2009 to about 212 million in 2014, particularly in North America and Europe, according to a study from ABI Research. “Smart” electricity meters, which enable two-way communication between the meter and the utility, may enable greater consumer control over energy consumption, says the market researcher.
A big driver for smart-meter growth is government funding. “In the U.S., $3.4 billion in federal economic stimulus funding was directed to smart-grid development in November 2009. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007) directly encourages smart-grid technology adoption by the states, and funds NIST’s efforts to develop a standards-based technology framework to facilitate smart grid adoption,” says Sam Lucero, practice director for ABI Research, in a statement.
In addition, the European Union recently enacted a “Third Energy Package” in September 2009, which aims to see every European electricity meter “smart” by 2022, Lucero says.
Lucero also says there is a possibility that China will replace 300 million electricity meters over the next five years or so.
The report, “Smart Meters for Smart Grids,” also indicates other growth drivers including efficiency and reliability gains, environmental concerns, improved customer service, energy theft reduction and increasing energy market competition.
But the road to smart metering has been bumpy. As an example, ABI Research cites the case of PG&E, an early adopter of smart meters, which has been accused by consumers of overcharging. PG&E stands by the accuracy of its meters, but it has created a public relations headache for the utility, according to Lucero.
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