Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Brazilian smart grid market poised for expansion
Most experts agree that smart grid is being embraced across the mature economies of the world, as nations with a well-established utility infrastructure work to update technology that is, in many cases, a century old in terms of its core architecture. What has been surprising during the past few years, is how much new solutions, such as smart grid, have become extremely popular in developing economies.
Essentially, these advanced infrastructures are allowing such nations to skip the traditional utility architectures that have dominated for so long and move directly to smart grid. In many ways, the technology is advancing in these areas even faster than the developed economies because they do not need to worry as much about replacing old systems and keeping services available.
Brazil, despite being a fairly mature economy, is a good example of this trend. Though not an undeveloped nation, Brazil still has many traits of an immature economy even though it has managed many advances in recent decades, especially in urban areas. However, there are also large tracts of land within the country where more advances are necessary. This place between a mature and undeveloped nation has created utility problems in Brazil, and smart grid is emerging as the answer, a recent Northeast Group study found.
For example, utility companies in Brazil face a major challenge in the form of electricity theft because the existing utility grid is not advanced enough to track distribution precisely and help providers prevent power piracy. This is a major issue, according to the Northeast Group, because it not only creates safety issues, but also forces paying customers to deal with larger bills to make up for the amount of energy stolen. Smart grid can resolve this, and many other utility problems, and is therefore becoming far more prominent in Brazil.
"Brazil's rapidly growing economy is straining the existing electric infrastructure and smart grid investments will be critical to address the many challenges facing the sector," the Northeast Group said.
The rapid infrastructure upgrade will drive significant smart grid spending, reaching $36.6 billion by 2022, the study found.
Smart grid has gained enough of a foundation around the world that most experts would agree that the technology is the future of the utility system. While there are still some strides to be made, the combination of traditional power delivery systems, smart meters and information technology tools is revolutionizing how utility grids function.
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