Get Ready for 300M Smart Meters On the Planet

There will be 302.5 million smart meters installed throughout the world by 2015, according to a report out from Berg Insight this morning. That means that over the next five years the amount of smart meters deployed in homes will grow to 50 percent in the U.S. and Europe and 25 percent in Asia. Berg estimates that by 2020 smart meter penetration could reach close to 100 percent in some of these markets.

First off, it seems like Berg is using a pretty liberal definition for the word smart meter. Basically any meter that can do the baseline automated meter reading is likely included. Though Berg describes smart meters as being able to perform “advanced functionalities and networking capabilities.”

Secondly a major driver for these installations is currently government mandates and incentives. The stimulus package in the U.S. is allocating $4 billion in smart grid grants, European countries have been pushing smart meter mandates, and the Chinese and Korean governments have aggressive smart meter plans, too.

Lastly, and most importantly, you need to remember that smart meters are just a small percentage of the total potential smart grid market. Just 11 percent of the total smart grid revenue, according to Pike Research, which called smart meters “a red herring” in a report last year. In contrast smart grid sectors like transmission infrastructure and distribution automation will generate significantly more revenue and will give utilities a better return on investment than smart meters, says Pike.

I’m also curious to know if research firms like Berg and Pike have lowered their projections at all for smart meter installations in the U.S., given some of the unexpected hurdles that some of the smart meter projects have faced in PG&E’s territory in California, in Baltimore and in Hawaii. (I’ve reached out to them and will update this if I hear more).

For more research on the smart grid check out GigaOM Pro (subscription required):

Report: Open Source & the Smart Grid

Home Energy Management: Consumer Attitudes and Choices

Cisco Seizes Smart Grid Low Hanging Fruit

Image courtesy of Tom Raftery Flickr creative commons.