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Smart Meter shipments to surpass 140 Mn units annually as mass markets like India, China integrate advanced metering infrastructure (AMI)

As we had mentioned earlier this year, the Indian government is planning to set up a “Smart Meter Task Force” that will look into modernising the “primitive ways” of calculating power usage according to tech czar Sam Pitroda.

According to Pitroda, the government reckons that India needs 100 million meters and towards this end, the Smart Meter Task Force will be entrusted the task of introducing low cost meters, costing between Rs.1,000 to Rs.1,500.

“We need a 2-chip meter that can be connected through GSM technology. Basically a dumb meter that is smart enough. These low-cost meters will feed critical data into the smart grids that are considered to be the panacea for our primitive power sector,” Pitroda added.

“It is amazing to see how India – which is a super power in Information Technology – lags terribly in the power sector. It is really annoying to see our primitive ways of providing power – be it evacuation, grids, meters or even the way we manually calculate power consumption till date,” said Pitroda, advisor to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on public information infrastructure and innovations.

Results from IDC Energy Insights’ Worldwide Quarterly Smart Meter Tracker found that worldwide smart meter shipments in the fourth quarter of 2011 (4Q11) grew 11.8% over the       previous quarter (3Q11) and were up 23.8% when compared to the fourth quarter of 2010. In the accompanying forecast, IDC Energy Insights  expects annual smart meter shipments to surpass 140 million units worldwide by 2016, up from 25.4 million in 2011. This represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 32.9% over the 2011 to 2016  forecast period.

While IDC Energy Insights expects developing markets to drive smart meter growth through 2016, the revival of the Canadian market and an uptick in shipments to Central and Eastern Europe were the primary drivers in the closing quarter of 2011. In 2012, smart meter shipments in Europe will accelerate as country-level planning continues to progress and the pathway towards the European Commission’s “20-20-20”  targets finally begins to materialize. Shipments will also ramp up significantly in the Asia/Pacific region as the massive markets in China and India begin to integrate advanced metering infrastructure (AMI).

As the smart metering industry moves through 2016, activity will shift from North America and Europe to the developing world. This shift will  be accompanied by an evolution to meet a new set of market needs. Dean Chuang, senior research analyst on the IDC Energy Insights Trackers team, notes “Local deployment patterns are beginning to emerge in the global smart metering industry. Each market and each utility has different needs and different intentions for their AMI system. Smart meter vendors are developing a wide array of solutions to fit the needs of each market.”

By 2016, IDC Energy Insight’s expects a pronounced difference between AMI in mature markets and upcoming emerging market deployments. Utilities in emerging markets tend to focus more on billing and theft deterrence than customer engagement or next-generation smart grid applications. Additionally, emerging markets have displayed a greater degree of price sensitivity than exhibited at earlier deployments in more mature AMI markets.

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