Smart meter and smart grid deployments continued at moderate pace in Q4 2011

Boulder, CO, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — March 29, 2012 – Smart meter and smart grid deployments continued at a moderate pace in Q4 2011, with large ongoing projects in both China and North America helping fuel demand for meter shipments at steady volumes, according to Pike Research’s latest smart grid deployment tracker.

However, some sluggishness appeared in Q4 2011 with overall smart meter shipments slipping nearly 8 percent from Q3 2011, due in part to some projects winding down and fewer new big projects coming to market. According to the tracker, global smart meter shipments reached 17.8 million in Q4 2011, bringing the total for the year to nearly 73 million.

As was the case in previous quarters of 2011, shipments in China accounted for the vast majority of global activity in Q4 2011. However, China’s market remains ambiguous since it is unclear how these new meters are actually configured and used in AMR and AMI systems.

During Q4 2011, some medium sized and smaller utilities announced new smart grid deployments. For example, in the U.S., Lafayette Utilities System chose Elster as its vendor for a deployment to 66,000 of its customers. In North Carolina, Wake Electric chose a Sensus AMI system for its 35,000 members spanning a seven county area. In Hawaii Kauai Island Utility Cooperative chose Landis+Gyr as the vendor for an AMI deployment, and Maui Electric Company and the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute selected Silver Spring Networks for the Maui Smart Grid Project.

In Europe Iberdrola announced it was seeking bids to deploy 1 million PRIME-based meters. In Taiwan the Ministry of Economic Affairs said it plans to invest an additional $4.28 billion in smart power grid infrastructure beginning in 2012. In Ecuador Electrica de Guayaquil will deploy approximately 25,000 smart meters from GE Energy as part of the second phase of a complete overhaul of the country’s meters.

Meanwhile in the U.K., British Gas said it was halting further installations of smart meters until the government clarified its smart meter plans.

In terms of vendors in North America, during Q4 2011 Landis+Gyr continued to hold the lead position at 25 percent of cumulative smart meter vendor selection shares, followed by Itron with 22 percent, GE Energy and Sensus both with 16 percent – all unchanged from Q3 2011.

Given the dearth of large volume new utility deployments being announced, the lack of change is not a surprise, and is a sign that the market has moved to a second wave of mid-size and smaller utilities that will be testing the smart grid waters, according to the tracker.