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GE to tap demand for smart meters in $200 billion market

GE to tap demand for smart meters in $200 billion market
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First Published: Fri, Apr 30 2010. 12 47 AM IST
Updated: Fri, Apr 30 2010. 12 47 AM IST
Bangalore: General Electric Co. (GE) is poised to tap the $200 billion (Rs8.92 trillion) smart-meter market as nations upgrade more power meters to improve electricity use and lower costs.
More than a billion electricity measuring units may be changed to smart meters in the next two decades, said Luke Clemente, general manager for GE Energy’s digital energy business.
A smart meter system may cost $100-200 a unit, depending on the technology used, and the business may be worth as much as $200 billion excluding add-on systems and devices, based on calculations from GE data.
“Smart meter is a beachhead for smart grid development,” Clemente, who oversees smart meter business globally for GE, the world’s biggest maker of power-generation equipment, said by phone from Singapore. “They help delay adding incremental (power) capacity and reduce electricity losses.”
Electricity networks equipped with so-called intelligent meters may improve efficiency and squeeze more out of ageing grid networks in developed nations while helping cut losses from thefts and inefficiencies in Asia. Smart meters transmit consumption patterns to the utility and allow customers to tap cheaper power during off-peak periods.
GE may spend $1.5 billion on research and development in its so-called clean products businesses this year, doubling its investment since 2005.
GE, whose first quarter profit fell 18%, is deploying smart grid networks on a commercial scale in the US and Australia, conducting trial runs in China and South Korea, and tying up in a meter-making venture with Fuji Electric Holdings Co., Clemente said.
The company is targeting the UK, Portugal, Spain, Germany and France as the European Union plans to replace 80% of its meters by 2020, the Atlanta-based GE official said. Smart grid installations may grow at double digits every year, he said, without giving details.
The US, which announced an $8 billion upgrade to the nation’s grid in October, plans to replace around 40 million of its 120 million meters with smart ones over three years.
China, where GE built a smart grid demonstration center in Yangzhou, plans to replace 400 million meters in five years, Clemente said.
The cost of installing smart meters may be a deterrent to some individual consumers as the savings accrue over a longer duration while lack of broadband access and costs may slow development in countries such as India, said Saifur Rahman, a professor at Virginia Tech College of Engineering.
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First Published: Fri, Apr 30 2010. 12 47 AM IST