US energy firms join smart grid trade mission to China


In the US, California-based smart grid analytics company C3 Energy has joined 25 American companies in the first Smart Cities-Smart Growth Presidential Trade Mission to China in a bid to “explore how next-generation technologies can encourage smart grid innovation throughout China”.

Jim Connaughton, executive vice president, C3 Energy is reported to be leading the company’s introduction to the Asian Market.

Mr Connaughton met with energy company executives, senior government officials, and energy technology and policy leaders during a week-long mission to evaluate how smart grid technology innovation can be encouraged throughout China.

According to Penny Pritzker, US Secretary of Commerce: “China will continue to have tremendous energy needs as the country urbanizes and grows its middle class, and American companies like C3 Energy have the expertise necessary to serve as partners in building clean and efficient infrastructure.”

Connaughton added: “Utilities can now take advantage of recent developments in advanced technologies, including clod computing, machine learning, and big data analytics to achieve greater levels of reliability, safety, security and efficiency.

“[We] leverage these next-generation technologies to enable utilities to realise the full potential of their smart grid investments.

“The Presidential Trade Mission brought together US and Chinese leaders and energy experts to share best practises and further the discussion around China’s smart grid and smart city technology requirements.”

Safety specialist UL and global water technology company Xylem were also part of the delegation.

Largest smart grid market

China investment in smart grid tech
Chinese smart meter manufacturer Waison has seen turnover from advanced metering infrastructure increase by 17% since 2013. The AMI division of the electricity and water meter maker brought in US$270 million up to December 2014

In 2013, China was named as the world’s largest investor in smart grid technology, having outspent the US for the first time, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

In a market valued at US$14.9 billion in 2013, China spent US$4.3 billion on smart grid technology.

A large part of China’s investment was on the installation of 62 million meters, the research showed.

China has just under 250 million smart meters installed, more than twice the total number of households in the US.

However, the Asian giant says it is extending its rollout completion date by two years, from 2015 to 2017.

Meanwhile, the North American smart meter market shrunk by a third in 2013, down to US$3.6 billion as the last of the US stimulus-funded projects wound down.

Colin McKerracher, senior energy smart technologies analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said: “Asian and European markets will drive growth through 2020, while in North America the focus will continue to shift from hardware to software as utilities look to squeeze additional value out of the vast amounts of grid data now available.”