Smart Meters Are A Fraction of the Smart Grid Market


Despite all of the hullabaloo over consumer backlash against smart meters, the investment in smart meters will actually only make up a small percentage of the spending for the entire smart grid, according to a report from research firm ABI Thursday morning. ABI says that while $41 billion will be invested into adding digital intelligence to utilities’ transmission and distribution networks between now and 2015, only $4.8 billion (around 10 percent) will be spent on smart meters over that time period.

That financial break puts the entire smart grid into perspective, and is something we’ve pointed out several times before. The smart grid is still a very large market and opportunity despite how fast or slow, or successful — or not successful — utilities’ smart meter projects end up being.

Now if only 10 percent (not 99 percent) of the mainstream media stories on the smart grid were about smart meters. But the transmission and distribution portion of the smart grid doesn’t sit on the outside of a consumer’s home, so it’s not as fun to write about (except for smart grid cyber spies!).

There is actually a significant problem with the general public equating “smart grid” with the angry news stories about smart meters, so clearly there is more education needed. Smart grid vendors and utilities have recently been responding with more public education and community groups, particularly in California.

As far as ABI’s overall smart grid market prediction goes, comparing it to forecasts from research firms makes it seem like ABI low-balled it a bit. According to Pike Research (yes, they’re bullish on most things) the smart grid have an estimated $210 billion in cumulative investment between 2010 and 2015.

For more research on the smart grid check out GigaOM Pro (subscription required):

Biggest Opportunities in the Smart Grid

Image courtesy of JU5T1N’s photostream.


Ben Linus

Katie, I did, and got more than 1,500 articles on smart grid investment, deployments and plans. When I searched for “smart grid” and “angry,” I got four articles, one of which was yours.

Ben Linus

Hey Celeste — As an editor, you should realize it’s unethical for one of your writers to promote the report of a private company in your “pool of analysts” without disclosing that you sell briefings based on their content, particularly when those briefings are focused on the topic of this article.

Ben Linus

Also, in what sense is “the general public equating “smart grid” with the angry news stories about smart meters”? Has someone done a consumer survey along these lines?
And what are these “angry news stories about smart meters” that you mention; are the writers angry, or the consumers? Where can we see them?

Katie Fehrenbacher

@Ben Linus, @Anon E Mouse, Thanks for the note. Pike has worked with GigaOM Pro, our subscription site, on contracting several reports. I’ll make it a habit of when referencing Pike will say (a GigaOM Pro partner). I don’t think my report is biased, in fact I clearly noted that Pike is “bullish on most things.”

Ben Linus

Aren’t you business partners with Pike Research? Isn’t it a conflict of interest to promote their research results, without saying that?

Anon E. Mouse

ABI is low-balling (actively lowering numbers for no reason) while Pike is “bullish”? Or is ABI conservative while Pike is high-balling? Seems biased.

I was curious to see about the previous comment, and it seems Ben is correct if you click on “Biggest Opportunities in the Smart Grid” under the article.

Celeste LeCompte

Hey Ben — I’m the Editor for GigaOM Pro, and I just want to add to Katie’s comments below. GigaOM Pro works with a large pool of analysts we believe do credible, well-sourced analysis on emerging technology sectors (including cleantech). We vet these folks and turn to them to provide research reports on specific topics of interest to our audience (aka, you!). They continue to do a great deal of work outside of that relationship, and the GigaOM sites (like Earth2Tech) are not required or encouraged to cover these external projects. Hope that helps.

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