Smart meters to exceed 50 million
The number of smart electricity meters installed worldwide was roughly 49 million in 2007, and is forecast to reach about 76 million this year, according to a study from ABI Research.
Smart meters, which measure and automatically communicate detailed electrical, gas or water usage information to the utility and, in some cases, enable greater consumer awareness and control over consumption, are being deployed at an increasing pace, especially in North America and Europe.
“Utilities need to move to smart metering as a way to address the growth in peak demand, operate more efficiently, provide customers with better service, and respond to environmental imperatives. Smart metering can help on all of these fronts,” said ABI senior analyst Sam Lucero. “They are encouraged in this by regulatory bodies, which use both ‘the carrot’ and ‘the stick’ to promote advances in energy distribution and conservation.”
Lucero added: “We don’t think that the economic crisis is having a significant effect. Utilities’ smart metering deployments are typically multi-year plans developed in the context of regulated market environments, and not terribly susceptible to short-term economic fluctuations.”
There are elements in the economic stimulus packages being implemented by many countries that will further encourage smart metering, Lucero noted: “It’s been reported recently that approximately $4.5bn of the recently approved stimulus package in the US will go towards smart-grid initiatives.”