The transition to smart grids is essential to improve the safety and efficiency of connected utilities, boost reliability, lower costs, make better use of existing assets, and minimize environmental impact. Smart networks have been high on the agenda of most electricity companies in the U.S. for some time now. In fact, smart grid installation is a goal that is shared by almost every developed nation.
But what progress has been made towards the modernization of electrical grids in this country and across the world? And how much is there left to be done?
As we head into 2019, these are the smart grid statistics that illustrate how far we’ve come from traditional power generation and data, as well as how far we still have to go.
Almost Half of U.S. Electricity Customers Have Smart Meters Installed
Smart meter installations have more than doubled since 2010 and now almost half of U.S. electricity customers have smart meters installed. Numbers are based on data from the end of 2016, according to which 71 million smart meters were installed out of 150 million electricity customers.¹ Since then, smart meters have likely proliferated further, and will continue to make inroads into 2019.
Global Smart Meter Installations Have Grown at a Rate of 6.8% Annually Between 2012-2017
Global smart meter installation rates have grown at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.8 percent between 2012 and 2017. Over the same period, the market value of smart meters grew at a CAGR of 12 percent. The total market was valued at $7.1 billion in at the end of 2017.² We can expect the growth rate to continue to accelerate until smart meters penetrate the market.
Global Smart Grid Investment Grew by 12 Percent Between 2014
Across the globe, investment in smart grid technology grew by 12 percent between 2014 and 2016. Investment is slowing down, however. Investment in smart distribution networks saw just a 3% increase in 2017.³ This could be due to utility companies already maximizing their investment in smart grid technology, although advanced analytics applications like outage analytics and smart meter intelligence will likely garner more investment in the near future.
U.S. Smart Grid Spending Could Reach $46 Billion Between 2018-2030
In order to reach full smart grid deployment in the United States, serious investment will need to be made up to and beyond 2030. It has been estimated that smart grid spending could total $3.5 billion annually through to 2030. This would mean total U.S. spending would reach $36 billion between now and 2030.4
Electricity Outages Cost Americans $150 Billion Each Year
Despite the fact that today’s grid system is 99.97 percent reliable, outages still occur—and when they do they cost Americans a minimum of $150 billion each year. That equates to about $500 for every man, woman, and child in the country.5 Smart grid technology, including advanced analytics that leverage machine learning, could be part of the solution that helps predict and prevent power outages.
Over 40 Electric Companies Have Fully Deployed Smart Meters
Many U.S electric companies have already fully deployed smart meters to their customers. Many more are expected to have reached full deployment by 2020.6
Smart Grids Can Cut Air Pollution by as Much as 30 Percent
It has been estimated that the smart grid would cut air pollution by as much as 30 percent by 2030. This would potentially save 34,000 deaths from power plant pollution and reduce the number of people diagnosed with acute respiratory symptoms each year, which currently stands at 18 million.7
The Smart Grid Transition is Ongoing
The transition to the smart grid evidently won’t happen overnight. But the U.S. and the rest of the world have already taken huge strides. Investment into smart grids is not diversifying into smart meters, analytics technology, and other tools to modernize infrastructure and better handle the massive data influx from connected devices.
The benefits of smart grids are also becoming clearer, but the rate of deployment will depend on investment and subsidies just as much as it will depend on public opinion. Keep your utility current by staying up to date on how both your organization and other public and private institutions are investing in smart grid technology in 2019 and following years. Changes at this time will set the stage for the market and competitive landscape for decades to come.