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Very clever meters

on Oct 17, 2012

The smart meter market is poised to see huge growth in the next ten years, with more and more utilities seeing the energy-efficient benefits.
The smart meter market is poised to see huge growth in the next ten years, with more and more utilities seeing the energy-efficient benefits.

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Recent developments suggest that smart meters may soon be hotly in demand across the region

Alot of things in the utilities sector appear to be getting ‘smart’, with increasing demand for energy efficiency being matched by technological advances to provide some clever solutions to old problems.

July’s issue looked at the progresof smart grid adoption in the Middle East, and this month we turn our attention to how the market for smart meters is performing in the region.

The two are of course intrinsically linked, though whilst a large-scale smart grid development is still to be seen, smart meters have been the subject of a greater number of smaller installations and local trials. Even so, trying to establish the level of current demand elicits mixed responses from our experts.

“There is demand in the region for Advanced Metering Infrastructure technology, as part of a smart grid solution, although the pace of adoption for smart metering solutions is very slow in comparison to other regions such as North America, Europe and Asia.

We expect this demand to increase exponentially in the future as the adoption of Smart Grids becomes a higher priority across the industry,” says Abdelrahman Abdellatif, principal consultant, Energy Solutions, at Huawei Enterprise ME.

By contrast, Muness Charara, director, energy sales and marketing ME, Itron, suggests that, “Smart metering and the smart grid are rapidly growing and evolving in the Middle East.

It is one of the fastest growing regions in the world and the demand for smart meters for new developments and meter replacement is on the rise. We view this as a tremendous growth opportunity.”

Hatem Tantawy, GCC sales manager at Elsewedy Electric subsidiary Isrkaemeco, says that smart meter implementation is already underway across much of the region, despite the key driver being a focus on environmental concerns, rather than in other markets where integrating renewable energy is a key concern.

“Taking a decision on the method and technology of deployment is not easy and takes time, especially during the rapid changes and dynamics of the ICT industry.

However, most of the GCC countries have started to consider the smart grid by taking the first step through smart metering deployment. Accordingly we can see that most utilities in the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are already in the stage of deploying smart meters into their grid,” he says.

If current demand is viewed as patchy, future growth is universally predicted to be substantial, with a recent report by Northeast Group predicting that the capital expenditure on smart meters in the Middle East will reach $3.9 billion by 2022, with 16.1 million units installed.

The group has forecast that the Gulf, led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, will see the majority of near-term activity in the market, with 86% of households having a smart meter installed by 2022.

Charara says that this demand will be driven by the importance of smart meters to utility companies when they try to optimise their distribution networks. ‘Time of Use’ charging, together with energy forecasting and the balancing of network demand will be key drivers for utilities as they look increasingly at smart metering.

“Most utility companies are under pressure from regulation authorities to decrease their carbon footprints, show more transparency with customers, and increase the efficiency of operations and maintenance – including distribution, outage, peak demand, billing management and cost optimisation,” adds Abdellatif.

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