cfeIn Europe, the president of Ericsson’s industry and society division for Latin America said the utilities sector in the region "offers the largest business opportunity for applying smart technologies" but a lack of regulation is holding back smart grid deployments.

Speaking to news source BNamericas at the recently held Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Ericsson's Jo Arne Lindstad said its work in Latin America is focused on three core areas to develop smart solutions in the region, investing in transport and public safety (smart cities), utilities and financial services.

The Swedish provider of communications technology and services said that while the transport and public safety sectors provide the bulk of opportunities, utilities hold the most promise of “unprecedented magnitude” for the application of smart technologies, albeit a slow sales cycle.

Lindstad said that smart grid solutions for Mexican utility CFE, and Brazilian utilities, CPFL and Eletropaulo can be worth hundreds of millions of Brazilian Real.

Lindstad added: “Utilities transformation has been relatively slow in Latin America because there is no regulation yet in place. It's not like Europe or the US where there are clear deadlines for when the networks have to be smart.”

The Ericsson executive said that Brazilian authorities, for example, have been concentrating on critical issues such as rectifying water and power shortages rather modernizing utility delivery infrastructure. He anticipates more smart grid opportunities in Mexico, as the power distribution sector becomes liberalized.

Solar power shows potential

Lindstad told BNamericas, that use of solar technology in Latin America will pick up between 2017 and 2019 as the domestic customers install their own solar cells and sell electricity back to the grid, with Brazil and Chile, expected to be the early adopters in this regard. Chile however, does not have the necessary net metering laws in place, to support smart grid and smart metering technology.

"You can't deliver electricity back to the grid if the grid isn't prepared for this,” said Lindstad.

Read more: In depth: Meters, tariffs and investment in Brazil

Picture credit: www.mexicanbusinessweb.mx