South Africa's power grid needs to become more intelligent for it to adapt to changing generation, transmission and distribution priorities.

In the smart grid market of the future, smart meters will be a requisite for capturing consumer data and Asia Pacific will lead global growth, according two research reports published this week.

‘Markets for Sensors for the Smart Grid: 2014-2021’ by RnR Market Research finds that smart grids are still in an early stage of deployment, and will require multiple sensing, monitoring, and control functions at various levels – presenting several opportunities for smart grid sensors going forward. Not all these opportunities are available immediately, the study finds but once developed, these sensing devices will do not only smart grid functions but also other industry functions.

Smart grids will also become more interdependent on increasingly complex systems including renewable energy integration, energy storage, and electric vehicles. Multiple technologies are being developed by different vendors for solving a common problem.

Smart grid trends

Aside from smart metering being an essential part of the grid to capture usage data, the report also predicts that on-grid generation will gain pace in the next seven years as well as an increased demand for grid safety and security.

Meanwhile, in the bigger smart grid picture, data from ‘Growth Opportunities in Global Smart Grid Market 2012–2017’ by Lucintel, a global management consultancy, shows while European countries first implemented smart grid projects with comparable growth rates, Asia Pacific is tipped as leading the global smart grid market due to a greater potential for generation, and high cumulative consumption increases.

Growth and decline

The global smart grid market has experienced good growth over the past five years and is expected to continue its growth momentum, reaching approximately US$64.3 billion by 2017.

Growth rates for 2006–2008 were higher for North America and EU, although after the global economic recession, the growth rates in APAC and Australia-Brazil surpassed these regions.