East Asian utilities: over 90% have smart grid projects – report

East Asian utilities will spend US$54.5 billion on smart grid technology within the next 10 years, according to a new study by US analysts Northeast Group.

The new research focuses on smart grid trends and East Asian utilities in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

Between 2015 to 2025, these countries are expected to focus on modernising their distribution grids – accounting for US$23.4 billion investment.

This will be followed closely by smart metering with US$21.7 billion in investment, according to a new study ‘East Asia Smart Grid: Market Forecast 2015-2025’.

Commenting on the East Asian forecast, Ben Gardner, president of Northeast Group, said: “East Asia is the last of the world’s developed regions – behind North America, Western Europe and Oceania – to begin large-scale smart grid deployments.

“Rollouts are now underway and the region will be one of the largest smart grid markets in the world over the next five to 10 years.”

East Asian utilities smart grid plans

Japan is the largest market in the region, followed by South Korea.

Japan’s largest utility Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) is already in the process of a large-scale smart grid deployment.

Tepco expects to deploy 27 million residential smart meters within its service territory by the time the Japanese capital hosts the Olympic Games in 2020.

Japan’s 10 electric utilities are scrambling to adapt to a tight government timetable for liberalization and with it, smart metering installation, in response to the high cost of electricity in the wake of Tepco’s Fukashima nuclear plant failure in 2011.

In 2014, Tepco last April installed 1,000 smart meters in Kodaira-city in Tokyo to validate its communications technology, the big challenge facing energy suppliers.

Another Japanese utility Chubu Electric Power is also actively deploying smart grid infrastructure.

Northeast Group’s research found that 13 out of 14 East Asian utilities have significant smart grid pilot projects or deployments in place already.

Smart grid opportunities

In some countries, a preference for local companies could hamper the market opportunity for international vendors, said the Washington DC-based market intelligence company.

At the same time, many partnership opportunities are available for international and local vendors to work together on deployments.