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Many emerging economies making strides with smart grid technologies

By Max Burkhalter
December 13, 2011
While emerging economies do not typically seem like the place where technological revolutions would take place, smart grid technology is quickly gaining a hold in many nations with less developed economic frameworks, according to a recent Northeast Group study.

The study pointed out that emerging economies are not currently a major player in the smart grid sector, with 95 percent of all smart meters located in either North America, Western Europe or Eastern Asia. However, this climate is changing fast. Currently, a number of countries with emerging economies are positioned to quickly embrace smart grid at a large scale, and may soon catch up to deployments in more developed nations.

The study identified 25 emerging national economies that are poised to embrace smart grid technology and catapult themselves into prominence in the sector. These countries are well positioned for new smart grid deployments because they have already begun introducing major pilot programs and have regulatory guidelines in place. Furthermore, gross domestic product growth rates in these emerging economies are almost double those in the developed world, creating an environment where smart grid investments are within reach, according to the study.

Approximately half of the 25 countries explored by the study are currently at a point where they can start investing in smart grid technologies immediately. They boast enough high-income citizens to create demand, have the regulatory systems in place to support secure smart grid deployments and are supported by foundational economic market conditions that will encourage investors to inject the capital required to initiate smart grid construction. All of the Central and Eastern European nations that the Northeast Group included in this study were classified within this group that is currently ready for adoption.

As more nations begin considering smart grid strategies in detail, investments in developed nations are beginning to increase. A recent webcast from IDC explained that U.S. smart grid deployments will center around electric vehicle charging stations, lithium-ion batteries, distribution automation systems and new smart meters, Renew Grid reported. Currently, significant investments in smart grid technologies are being fueled by government grants, but as the small number of major privately-funded projects are completed, a significant influx of funds are expected to hit the sector, according to the report.

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