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India is ripe for smart grid investment — but it’s going to be a very different kind of smart grid than the ones being built in the United States, Europe and China. That’s the gist of a recent “smart grid playbook” report from Smart Grid News, which cited reports that place India as the third-largest potential smart grid market behind the U.S. and China over the next 20 years. But while the U.S. is focuing on smart meters, distribution automation and demand response, and China on its “strong, smart grid” with massive high-voltage transmission lines, India’s grid is far more fragmented, and far less reliable. The country suffers from frequent blackouts, and many large industries build their own power generation to have a reliable source of electricity — a set of circumstances that could make so-called microgrid systems far more attractive in India. Meanwhile, many rural areas lack grid power, which could open the door to clever and cost-effective distributed generation and energy storage systems. As for smart meters, IBM’s energy and utilities chief Guido Bartels notes that “non-technical losses” — a nice way of saying energy theft — remains the top concern of India’s utilities in terms of installing newer, smarter meters. Energy theft is also a big problem in South America, the Caribbean and other developing regions, making up an interesting market for lower-cost, tamper-proof smart meter systems.