By Angela Lin

China has been undergoing the fastest recovery in economy globally since the beginning of the year and its GDP is expected to reach 8.2% growth in 2009. China is also expecting stable and even faster economic growth, and strong energy demand and consumption in the coming five years and beyond.

China’s power industry was dismantled into two power grid operators – the State Power Grid Corp of China and South China Power Grid Corp – and five power generation group companies in 2003. Since then a series of reforms have been introduced and tremendous changes and achievements have been made. In May 2009, China State Power Grid Corp announced it would build strong and smart grids by the year 2020 with an investment of 4 trillion RMB (approximately US$600 billion) in three steps. This initiative is expected to bring unlimited business opportunities to the top metering solution suppliers and other equipment manufacturers.

China's electricity customer base occupies the first position in Asia, even in the world, with an estimated 480 million consumers. With the general plan of building smart grids, China is currently deploying smart metering projects with an estimated budget of approximately US$10 billion encompassing 200 million smart meters to be installed in the coming five years. The procurement process has been started recently and further steps are under preparation for this objective. It is expected that the need and requirement for better quality, smart technologies and solutions as well as the driving engines from the smart grid initiatives, the economic growth, rising energy demand and consumption and on-going energy reforms in the industry, will lead to significant business opportunities appearing in Chinese market.

China has become the world’s second largest electricity market. Its purchasing power is now among the world’s top investors. Meanwhile, China has already become the biggest manufacturer and user of utility meters and components/parts in the world. The deployment of smart metering projects driven by the smart grid initiative in China will continue to boost market growth especially creating huge business opportunities for electronic parts/components, semiconductors, and communication technology providers. In addition it will also attract smart buyers from all over the world to source smart metering products from China, and investors to seek investment opportunities in this region.

It was commonly aware from the most recent closed SMARTGRIDSChina 2009 Conference, organised by GSL Consulting Ltd, that the deployment of smart metering and smart grid projects in China will be moved forward more rapidly in pace and on a larger investment scale than in other countries. It is predicted that by the end of 2009, the general design and plan of China’s smart grid development will be announced and from 2010, the implementation will be officially started.