Michael Markides,
IMS Research
Lead Analyst
 
Austin, TX, U.S.A. --- (METERING.COM) --- January 8, 2013 - By the end of 2016, the global installed base of advanced (communicating) electricity meters is expected to double, propelling the installed base of communicating meters to almost 35 percent penetration globally,according to a new market study from IMS Research.

At the close of 2011, just under 18 percent of the roughly 1.43 billion installed meters were communicating. These meters ranged from older one-way AMR style technology to GPRS (cellular) enabled C&I meters, to residential smart two-way meters. From 2012 onwards a mixture of fixed network technologies are anticipated to be installed worldwide, ranging from simpler RS485-wired types to next generation smart two-way PLC-OFDM meters.

In 2011 North American shipments remained strong, while shipments to China and Spain began in earnest, according to the report. However, average annual shipments from 2012 through 2014 are expected to remain at this level, only growing significantly once more in 2015 when expected European advanced metering projects go online.
 
While the markets of North America and Western Europe are mostly understood, in the long term the continued growth of the global smart meter market is highly dependent on developing economies such as China, Brazil and India. Of these three regions, China is currently the only significant market for advanced meters. In 2011, some 40 million advanced electricity meters were shipped there, however most were simple wired RS485 meters utilizing one-way communications. The adoption of these simpler communicating meters reflects the difference in drivers in China when compared to Western Europe and North America. Rather than focusing on next generation functionality such as voltage optimization or demand response, utilities there are more concerned with energy theft through meter tampering or bribes to readers.

Brazil, India, and other developing countries face similar challenges and may also see the need for simpler one-way style communicating meters to be installed in order to curtail non-technical losses.
 
“In the next five years, most developed countries and industrializing, developing nations will have thriving advanced electricity meter markets,” concluded IMS Research lead analyst Michael Markides. “Whether installed to save on labor costs, work in conjunction with other smart grid schemes, or curtail non-technical losses, utilities worldwide are accelerating their adoption of smart metering.”