Europe the Front-runner at Copenhagen in the Smart Grid Space

Their ability to communicate energy usage data in real time opens up numerous lucrative market opportunities. "Smart meters form an integral part of a smart grid," notes Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Vikas Ravindran. "Moving forward, complete automation of the grid is set to become the norm with real-time information at the customers’ fingertips."

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (, European Smart Meter Markets, estimates the markets to reach $11 billion by 2015. The study covers automated meter infrastructure (AMI), IT systems and communication technologies.

Members of the Smart Green Grid Initiative (SGGI), which includes the heavyweights General Electric, Landis+Gyr, Echelon and Google to name a few are expected to hold smart grid focussed events at the UN talks in Copenhagen. Europe being a front-runner in the smart grid space with Italy leading the way since 2005 has seen continuous development. Denmark currently generates close to 20 percent of its electricity from wind power. It has developed the most intelligent grid to manage this clean power load. The government is also simultaneously working on strategic alliances with major firms towards building better infrastructure for smart grid. The country is sure to act as an important case study for most of the investors and venture partners.

Smart meters represent the first step towards energy management. The European smart meter markets have experienced significant progress over the last few years when compared to those in the rest of the world, and they are now moving towards total grid automation.

However, challenges such as interoperability and data security are restraining the markets’ growth. Another issue is the lack of clarity regarding their business case, which causes utilities to delay investments and large-scale deployments.

"Communication is the backbone for a smart grid operation and to have interoperable solutions is of paramount importance," explains Ravindran. "A system which runs on multiple standards is one of the best ways to distinguish one’s product over the competition."

As competition intensifies, it is important to have high product differentiation. The business case would need to traverse the range from product- to service-based benefits, thereby achieving a competitive edge.

"Smart meter manufacturers need to move from a product- to a services-based model," advises Ravindran. "Investments in meters alone will not yield higher returns. In order to rapidly gain market share, manufacturers need to customise their entire AMI solution for consumers."

European Smart Meter Markets is part of the Energy & Power Growth Partnership Services programme, which also includes research in the following markets: European Nuclear Power Sector, Strategic Assessment of the European Market for Alternative Fuel Gensets, Assessment of Opportunities in European Micro CHP Markets and, Cogeneration in Europe – A Strategic Assessment. All research services included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends that have been evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.

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