Southeast Asian countries will invest $13.6 billion in smart grid infrastructure between 2014 and 2024, according to a new study by market intelligence firm Northeast Group.
This investment will include smart metering and the modernization of electricity transmission and distribution networks with sensors, communications and software. By 2024, the largest markets will be Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Vietnam. Smart grids permit power generators and users to monitor usage, which helps utilities to adjust supply to demand and reduce costs by saving energy in transmission.
"Smart grid investment over the next decade will shift from North America and Europe to emerging market regions," said Ben Gardner, president of Northeast Group. "Southeast Asian countries are just beginning on the path of modernizing their electric infrastructure. Strong GDP growth of nearly 6 percent through 2018 and corresponding growth in electricity demand will help lay the foundation for investment. Electrification programs and growth in renewable resources will also drive investment.”
Although Singapore is currently leading the region in development, later in the decade the large markets of Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines will account for significant smart grid investment. Southeast Asian countries will deploy 37.3 million smart meters between 2014 and 2024, accounting for $8.8 billion in investment. The region will also invest $2.5 billion in distribution automation, or advanced monitoring and control of the distribution network with sensors and communications. Other smart grid segments will account for an additional $2.2 billion in investment.
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Several countries in the region have drafted smart grid roadmaps and pilot projects are widespread, the report says. Regulatory frameworks are still developing but momentum will grow over the next several years. Both utilities and vendors are already working together to ensure preparedness when regulations are finalized.
In 2013, China spent more on smart grids than the U.S. for the first time, with the $4.3 billion it invested accounting for nearly a third of the world’s total. Although global spending rose almost 5 percent to $14.9 billion, North American investment declined as much as 33 percent to $3.6 billion. China has installed almost 250 million smart meters, enabling customers to provide immediate feedback to utilities that are able to use the data to set pricing and smooth fluctuations in consumption. Initiatives such as IBM’s 10-year “Green Horizon” program are looking to leverage energy optimization to address the country’s growing environmental concerns.