BOULDER, USA: As countries across the Asia Pacific region step up their efforts to curb emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and reduce energy costs, utilities and governments are launching increasingly aggressive deployments of smart meters, with the goals of reducing electricity use, empowering consumers, saving money for both consumers and suppliers, and paving the way for emerging technologies such as demand response and smart grids.
As carbon reduction and energy efficiency efforts grow, smart meters and advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) will play a vital part in an overall smart grid strategy. Indeed, in many Asia Pacific nations smart metering is regarded as the fundamental step in reducing CO2 emissions and fostering a cleaner society. According to a recent report from Pike Research, the installed base of smart meters in Asia Pacific will total more than 350 million by 2016, with countries such as Japan, China, and Australia achieving smart meter penetration rates among the highest in the world.
“The last two years have seen a surge in interest and activity around smart meters in Asia Pacific,” says senior analyst Andy Bae. “Electric utilities and solutions providers across the region are starting to experiment with and deploy a wide range of innovations by implementing nationwide smart grid projects that have smart meters at their core.”
Among countries in the region, China has the most ambitious goals for smart meter installations. By 2016, Pike Research forecasts, China will represent more than three-quarters of the installed base of smart meters in Asia Pacific, and the government has declared plans to continue a large-scale meter deployment through at least 2020. China plans to introduce 682 million to 782 million smart meter units by 2020 – a number that would dwarf deployments in other countries.
Nevertheless, market barriers remain for utilities and suppliers looking to capitalize on national smart meter programs. Price burdens for Asia Pacific customers are high, as most national policymakers believe that the costs of the rollout of smart meters should be apportioned across the supply chain. In addition, legislative issues – related to meter ownership, access to data, and rights transfers resulting from switching electricity suppliers – are yet to be ironed out.