Smart metering to cover 50% of South America’s smart grid investments


Smart Energy International spoke with Ben Gardner, president of Northeast Group, a smart infrastructure market intelligence firm based in Washington DC, to understand the latest developments within the smart grid market in South America.

What projects are currently being deployed?

There are a number of significant projects in the region. For example, the utility CFE in Mexico has very significant projects as does the utility Light in Brazil.

In addition, there are a number of other projects in diverse countries across the region such as at Enel in Peru, Edesur in Argentina, Codensa in Colombia, UTE in Uruguay and a host of others. Utilities in the region have gained valuable experience with pilot projects and are now moving towards larger deployments.

What measures have governments put in place to oversee rollouts?

After years of slow progress, South America is finally showing signs of becoming one of the most attractive emerging market regions for smart grid investment.

Eight of the ten countries in South America already have significant pilot projects in place, while half of the countries have developed some form of smart meter regulatory target.

In terms of deployments, Brazil is the regional leader, with ongoing deployments in the hundreds of thousands of meters and larger projects expected.

At the end of 2017, Chile, Colombia, and Uruguay all announced plans for rollouts and/or regulatory targets and smart grid investment plans have already been developed.”

Are there are any smart grid associations in these countries and what are their duties?

There are various industry associations in the region, for example in Brazil there is ABRADEE, the Brazilian distribution utility association and there is also a Brazilian energy storage association, among others.

What are some the market trends in the region and in each country?

The key driver of smart grid infrastructure initiatives is the unique near-term and long-term benefits South American countries will receive from deployments.

Most notably, South American utilities will receive near-term savings from smart meter deployments by reducing non-technical losses.

At nearly 15%, the regional transmission and distribution (T&D) loss rate is among the highest in the world. Longer-term benefits will be seen through increased integration of renewable resources and customer engagement benefits.”

Case study

One of South America’s key case studies is the utility Light in Rio de Janeiro which has an on-going 1.4 million smart meter deployment.

Furthermore, in Mexico, the utility CFE is deploying hundreds of thousands of AMI meters per year. The deployments have been largely funded to-date by the Mexican government’s PIDIREGAS scheme but now deployments are also on-going outside of the scheme.

Market forecasts and trends

The total smart grid infrastructure market in South America will cumulatively be $20.1 billion over the period 2018-2027, with smart metering representing just over half of this amount, or $10.2 billion.