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Smart grid technologies gained $13.9 billion in investments in 2012

Global investment in smart grid technologies totaled $13.9 billion worldwide in 2012, finds a new research conducted by the Worldwatch Institute.

Smart girds, which are electricity networks that use digital information and communications technologies for more efficient and reliable electricity transport, are needed to facilitate the integration of more renewable energy into the grid.

With more and more countries shifting towards increasing the shares of renewable energy into their energy mix and upgrading aging grid infrastructure to be more energy efficient, the market for smart grid technologies has been rising as well.

The United States maintained its position as a leader in smart grid investment, spending $4.3 billion in 2012. China followed close with $3.2 billion in investments in 2012.

The European Union spent $1.4 billion in smart grid technologies last year, while Latin America only invested $400 million.

While the U.S. still has most shares of the world’s smart grid technologies, the report noted that the current $4.3 billion actually represents a decline in investment of 19 percent from $5.1 billion in 2012.

This decline in investments was said to be due relatively to the expiration of federal funding programs initiated under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009.

China, on the other hand, has been stepping up its smart grid investments ushered by the government’s plans to update its poorly designed and inefficient transmission system.

The State Grid Corporation of China has a three-phase plan to invest $601 billion in transmission infrastructure, with $101 billion for smart grid technology through 2020. If China continues to invest heavily in smart grid technology, they could surpass the U.S. as world leader by 2013.

In Europe, the smart grid market has been driven by Electricity Directive 2009/752/EC, which mandated E.U. member states to deploy smart meters in 80 percent of their households by 2020. While progress on this mandate varies from country to country, as of 2011, around 10 percent of European households already had smart meters.

Other countries that have notable investments in and deployments of smart grid technologies were South Korea where around 4 percent of households have smart meters as of February 2012 and Brazil which had invested $240 million in stimulus funds in 2010.

Japan was cited as being home to one of the most efficient electricity grids in the world, with distribution losses of only around 4.9 percent over the period of 2000 to 2010.

Aside from smart meters, grid-scale energy storage technologies are another vital aspect of smart grids, especially with regards to the drive to add more renewable energy to the grid.

There were 714 grid-scale energy storage projects worldwide in 2012 in varying stages of operation or development, a 19 percent increase in the number of projects from 2011.

According to Worldwatch, the next few years will see numerous smart grid deployment projects and advances in energy storage markets. – EcoSeed Staff

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