ICT spending on smart grid in North America to reach $17.5 billion by 2013


Marcus Torchia,
Research Manager,
IDC Energy Insights,
Intelligent Grid
Framingham, MA, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — December 15, 2009 – Information and communications technologies (ICT) spending on intelligent grid technology in the United States and Canada will increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.1 percent to reach $17.5 billion by 2013, according to new research from IDC Energy Insights.

The research, which was based primarily on interviews with IT directors and other executives, found that the investor-owned utility segment leads in spending on smart grid technology investments.

Further, smart metering/AMI projects act as a spring board for business process transformation and further technology investment, and there is an increase in pilot project activity accompanied with expectations for longer trial periods, which should provide ample opportunity for vendor learning as utility investment focus shifts.

“The intelligent grid is a rapidly growing area, yet little hard data has been available in the past to provide market players with a validated assessment of the market’s status and direction, particularly in terms of spending,” said Marcus Torchia, research manager at IDC Energy Insights, Intelligent Grid Strategies. “To understand the magnitude and timing of ICT investments, we surveyed more than 80 utilities in U.S. and Canada. The result is a comprehensive forecast of spending and adoption of key smart grid ICT technologies across multiple utility segments.”

According to the report, as AMI/smart meter technology planning gives way to deployment activity, the new ICT infrastructure allows utilities to begin a new cycle of innovation and discovery in the form of field pilots as well as business process change. The field pilots represent a diverse set of initiatives from implementing customer facing technologies in the home to improving electricity quality on the transmission lines to minimizing outage duration and frequency across distribution assets.

The utilities’ focus on AMI/smart metering investments accentuates a well-worn path in utility buying behavior that tends to buy technology based on meeting the needs of a business unit (e.g., generation, transmission, distribution, and customer operations) rather than the organization at large. However, this deeply rooted practice is noted by executives, who are focused on breaking down the walls that separate OT and IT and inhibit them from basing technology purchases on not only the practical but the possible.