Report: Smart-Grid Outlay Will Top $200B by 2015

A new Pike Research report shows governments and utilities are expected to spend $200 billion worldwide on the electrical smart grid from 2008 through 2015.

“Smart grid” refers to technologies that automate and digitize electrical power management; part of the hope is to cut costs and conserve energy. Service providers will contribute to the efforts by running data over their networks – such grid automation is forecast to garner about 84 percent of the $200 billion, according to Pike.

Smart meters, meanwhile, should snare 14 percent of that share. Smart meters track electricity, gas and water use. Finally, systems that charge electric cars will make up the remaining 2 percent.

“Our analysis shows that utilities will find the best return on investment, and therefore will devote the majority of their capital budgets, to grid infrastructure projects including transmission upgrades, substation automation, and distribution automation,” Clint Wheelock, Pike managing director, said in a prepared statement.

Still, the smart grid has a long ways to go before it reaches its full potential. Pike said the grid’s development has been stunted by technical and financial constraints, as well as the absence of common standards, obsolete regulations and even utilities’ mistrust over the public’s electricity consumption.

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