Two thirds of American meters are smart, says Berg

  • March 2, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

Two thirds of all electricity meters in North America are now smart, according to analyst firm Berg Insight.

The penetration of smart electricity meters in North America reached 68 per cent in 2020. Overall, the installed base of smart electricity meters is predicted to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 5.7 per cent from 2019 to 2025 to reach a total of 153.8 million units.

Over the next five years, the penetration of smart meters in the USA will grow to reach a level of 84 per cent while the respective figure for the more advanced Canadian market will reach 92 per cent.

“First-wave deployments will continue to grow robustly over the next several years and will to a large extent be driven by the launch of major new projects by late adopters in north-eastern USA and eastern Canada,” said Levi Ostling, smart metering analyst at Berg Insight. “Meanwhile, refreshment rounds for the early adopters have now gradually begun and will grow their share of annual shipment volumes from around ten per cent in 2020 to around 70 per cent in 2025.”

According to the study, yearly shipments of smart electricity meters in North America will grow from 9.8 million units in 2019 to 17.4 million units in 2025. The Covid-19 pandemic had a notable impact on deployments during 2020 with a year-over-year decrease of around 13 per cent in annual shipment volumes. The market is, however, expected to recover in 2021 with forecasted shipment volumes of 10.7 million units.

Along with the increase in smart meter refreshment projects, the development of smart metering technology in the North American market has in the last couple of years shifted focus to serving the demand of utilities, which are to begin second-wave smart meter rollouts. These utilities are now looking to leverage their existing network canopies for a wider array of smart city applications beyond metering while also trying to figure out how to cope with the integration of the rapidly increasing number of electric vehicles and distributed energy resources into the grid infrastructure.

“The race is now on among the top vendors to develop the most attractive use cases for second-wave smart metering technology,” said Ostling. “Increased computing power and edge analytics capabilities enable an entirely new set of benefits that are yet to be substantiated by the solution providers.”

A research study from Berg Insight forecasts that 572.3 million smart electricity meters will be deployed in China, India, Japan and South Korea during 2021 to 2025. At the end of 2019, overall smart meter penetration stood at 69 per cent in these markets, corresponding to an installed base of 653.3 million units.

While China has already completed first-wave rollouts, Japan and South Korea will be the next markets to reach nationwide coverage with likely completion in the next three to four years. India had only reached a penetration of around one per cent at the end of 2020 but is expected to be the main driver behind overall smart meter penetration growth in Asia-Pacific in the coming years.

The Chinese market is expected to account for as much as 70 to 80 per cent of smart electricity meter demand across Asia in the next few years with refreshment rounds replacing early smart meter installations now beginning at a larger scale in the country. This demand continues to be fulfilled entirely by domestic manufacturers of which many have grown to match the largest global smart metering players in terms of output and revenues.

“More advanced meter requirements along with growing demand for new use cases in the domestic market are now also strengthening the competitiveness of Chinese vendors in the global smart metering market,” said Ostling.

These vendors are now making strong inroads into fast-growing smart metering markets such as central Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

At the same time, the Indian smart metering market has in recent time faced difficulties in ramping up its smart metering deployments.

“Ambitious targets to roll out some 250 million smart meters within just a few years’ time has so far failed to materialise, with the installed base of such devices merely doubling over the past two years to reach a modest three million units at the end of 2020,” said Ostling.

The country has, however, been severely affected by the on-going Covid-19 pandemic and heavy lockdowns meant that smart meter deployments were at a complete standstill during the greater part of 2020.

During the second half of 2020, tender activity started to pick up pace and a new funding scheme tentatively called Samarth and worth up to INR4tn is under consideration by the government.

Overall, Berg forecasts that the Indian market will experience a compound annual growth rate of 76.2 per cent during the forecast period and account for as much as 15 to 20 per cent of smart meter shipments in Asia in 2025.