Nearly 73 Million Smart Meters Were Shipped in 2011, But Deployments Slowed in the Fourth Quarter

March 28, 2012

Overall, 2011 was a huge year for smart grid deployments, as global full-year shipments of smart meters reached nearly 73 million endpoints.  Deployments in China drove most of this annual volume (71%), as the Asian juggernaut continued to build out its electrical infrastructure.  Meanwhile, utilities in other countries made significant smart meter announcements during 2011.  In Canada, Hydro-Quebec chose Landis+Gyr to supply most of its planned 3.75 million smart meters, while BC Hydro selected Itron to provide 1.8 million OpenWay meters over the next two years.  In the United States, Consumers Energy announced that it would use SmartSynch’s communications network technology for 1.8 million smart meters to be deployed starting in August 2012.  The pace of smart meter and smart grid deployments slowed in the fourth quarter of 2011, however, as some projects wound down and fewer new big projects were announced.  According to a new tracker report from Pike Research, overall smart meter shipments in the last three months of the year slipped nearly 8% from 3Q 2011.  Global smart meter shipments reached 17.8 million in 4Q 2011, the cleantech market intelligence firm found, with China accounting for 12.3 million of these.

“There’s a combination of good news and caution in these latest numbers,” says senior analyst Neil Strother.  “For the full year, shipments of smart meters were strong, and that’s the good news for the industry.  However, there is also a cloud in this picture as the volume of new deployment announcements was relatively weak, indicating that perhaps for the first time we’ve arrived at a market peak.”

Several new smart grid deployments announced during 4Q 2011 came from medium-sized and smaller utilities.  For example, in the United States, Lafayette Utilities System chose Elster as its vendor for a smart grid deployment to 66,000 of its customers.  And in North Carolina, Wake Electric chose a Sensus AMI system for its 35,000 members who span a seven-county area surrounding the state’s capital city of Raleigh.  But these are rather small volumes when compared to projects announced in previous quarters of 2011, when millions of endpoints were involved.  Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, British Gas said it was halting further installations of smart meters until the government clarified its smart meter plans.

Pike Research’s report, “Smart Grid Deployment Tracker 4Q11”, updated quarterly, provides detailed analysis of worldwide utility smart grid and smart meter programs including tracking of customer endpoints, metering vendors, communications vendors, and systems integrators.  The tracker includes a tactical examination of technologies, deployment timeframes, and vendor selections for each utility deployment, along with vendor market share analysis.  An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the firm’s website.

Contact: Richard Martin

+1 303 997 7609

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