Smart electricity meter market up 10% but Europe feeling pinch

Smart electricity meter market grows 10% in 2014
The delay in rolling out smart meters in Europe is forcing large manufacturers to extend limit cash flow to manage investor expectations, according to IHS

The smart electricity meter market saw double-digit growth in 2014 bouncing back from a slowdown in 2013.

There are winners and losers though according to the latest figures from global research company IHS.

Despite the market growing by 10% year on year in 2014, the market is still waning in Europe and North America, while Asia has seen the greatest upswing in demand.

Chinese state-run utilities continued their rapid replacement of electromechanical meters in 2014, and other countries expanded their communicating meter capabilities, which led to higher growth rates, said IHS.

Meanwhile, North America experienced a decline in smart meter shipments in 2013, which — along with continued delays to the rollouts expected in Europe — dampened global growth to about 5%.

Commenting on the findings, Jacob Pereira, smart utilities infrastructure analyst for IHS, said: “While many European suppliers are likely to be relieved by the recent flurry of rollouts awarded in the region in 2015, they are still struggling with many issues caused by the rollout delays.”

“These delays have caused suppliers in Europe to cede global share to Chinese vendors that are winning bids in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as in developing markets in Africa and Latin America.”

Mr Pereira said the research suggests that the slow-moving European market is taking its toll on suppliers, requiring them to try to extend limited cash flow to manage investor expectations.

Smart electricity meter market share

Large Western suppliers, which tend to focus on the higher-margin markets of North America and Europe, lost market share in 2014, the analyst explained.

Major manufacturers often deal in the huge Chinese market through partnerships and other third-party methods, rather than directly, as local manufacturers do, making their share appear lower.

Since China is by far the world’s largest market, these partnerships help to reduce their share overall.

Pereira said: “Although some Western suppliers are quite active in other developing markets in Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia, the demand for smart meters is generally much lower there.”

Video: Smart electricity meters in China

Hear about the landscape of smart electricity meters in China with Metering & Smart Energy International’s interview with Eviane Gao, general manager, at Shenzhen Star Instruments.