The next hot smart grid market: Brazil

With its booming economy, growing middle class and investments in city infrastructure, Brazil is looking like it’ll be the next hot market for smart grid development. According to a report in Metering, Siemens is making a $1 billion investment into the smart grid market in Brazil over the next five years and is in the process of acquiring an undisclosed smart grid startup in the country.

Investments in the smart grid in Brazil are supposed to hit $36.6 billion by 2022, according to a report from the Northeast Group. That report says that Brazilian utilities will use smart grid investments to reduce electricity theft, improve grid reliability and simply to build out electricity infrastructure. Brazilian utilities are also investing in smart meters, and the government and the Brazilian regulator ANEEL want to deploy 63 million AMI meters by 2021.

U.S.-based smart grid companies are looking to sell into this potentially booming smart grid market. Silver Spring Networks is working with Brazilian utility AES Eletropaulo to install a wireless-based smart meter and grid pilot project in Sao Paulo. Electropaulo has installed 60,000 smart meters to date, which is the largest smart meter installation in Brazil, reported Bloomberg recently, and Electropaulo’s smart grid project will include 80,000 customers.

Brazil is the leading market for smart grid in Latin America, and tech companies across the board are using Brazil as an entrance into the rest of the continent. The Utilities Telecom Council’s (UTC) recently held its first America Latina Summit on Smart Grid in Rio de Janeiro. Brazil already also has substantial clean power, with 77 percent of its energy coming from hydro-electric resources, according to Smart Grid News.

I recently spent a couple days in Sao Paulo through the Geeks on a Plane trip, and met with many tech entrepreneurs and investors in the region (none specifically focused on smart grid). While the smart grid market is less traditionally an area for startups and entrepreneurs (this space is largely dominated by big companies and utilities) it still could offer some potential opportunities for startups, innovation and entrepreneurs, particularly for software, big data and analytics companies.

Image courtesy of gaby_bra.