According to a recent report from Pike Research (Boulder, Colo., U.S.A.), a cleantech market intelligence firm, cumulative investment in smart grid technologies within Europe will total $80.3 billion by 2020. In addition, the firm anticipates that by 2020, 238.4 million smart meters will have been deployed across the region.
According to the report, while much of the smart grid development in Europe mirrors programs underway in North America and other parts of the globe, there are important differences in priorities and emphasis. In particular, aggressive goals for energy efficiency and carbon emissions reductions are major drivers for smart grid and smart meter deployments in Europe. The report predicts that over the next five to 10 years, these deployments will be closely linked with the achievement of 2020 carbon reduction goals in the European Union.
"Smart grid development is really part of a unique transformation taking place across European energy networks, industry, and society over the next 40 years," says senior analyst Eric Woods. "The smart grid is at the heart of energy and environmental policies that cover 27 countries and 500 million people."
While Germany, the largest electricity market in the EU, supports a wide range of smart grid and smart meter pilots, little has happened in the way of a large-scale deployment, according to Pike Research. In Sweden, by contrast, an early commitment to smart metering has led to a prominent position in the overall European smart grid movement.
The implementation of a continent-wide smart grid requires a systemic view that can grasp both interrelated technological and market issues and the challenges of integrating widely varying national systems, says the research firm. Among the critical issues to be addressed is the development of European standards for smart meters and smart grid deployments, the demonstrated ability to address privacy and security concerns, the creation of a realistic roadmap for large-scale deployment, and the formulation of suitable investment and incentive models by regulators.