With demand for smart meters on the decline in the US and close to peaking in Europe with major rollouts under way, the market focus is shifting increasingly towards the developing countries and Asia Pacific in particular.
According to Navigant Research, in 2016 the Asia Pacific smart meter market was worth close to $5.5bn out of a total $9bn globally. While a temporary decline in regional shipments is expected in the current year, as China nears the end of a massive smart meter rollout, the market is projected to grow to almost $7bn through 2025. India is just beginning its programme, intending to install 50m smart meters over the next four years. In Japan, the country’s 10 utilities are in the process of installing around 80m smart meters by 2025. Beyond these major markets, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Taiwan are all in varying stages of smart meter deployments.
UL meter test facility
Crucial for the acceptance of meters in individual markets is their adherence to the relevant national norms and standards.
Committed to lending a support to this activity while at the same time giving a boost to the importance and availability of smart meters in the Asia Pacific region – and potentially increased competition and lower prices – the independent global safety science company UL is offering a new smart meter test facility in Singapore. UL’s Jurong laboratory has obtained accreditation from the SAC (Singapore Accreditation Council) under the Singapore Lab Accreditation Scheme, Singlas, and will serve as a central hub for the whole Asia and Oceania area.
Due to strong growth of smart meter installations planned around the world, demand has risen for local testing facilities to help ensure customer designs comply with different country requirements, UL said in a statement.
The Singapore facility provides comprehensive facilities in meter accuracy, performance and EMC testing under one roof. This helps meter manufacturers improve their competence and effectiveness during the product design phase.
In addition, UL meter testing in global facilities covers most of the requirements for access to different countries, including IEC 62052/3/4/5, NMI-M6, EN50470-1/3, ANSI C12 CFE and AS62052/3 series.
“Smart meters play an important role in the delivery of smart energy solutions,” says Wesley Kwok, engineering director - Greater Asia of UL’s Energy and Power Technologies division. “This accreditation not only positions UL to provide service to our smart meter customers locally in Asia Pacific, it also opens the opportunity to build partnerships with utilities.”
AMI as an enabler for Asia Pacific
Given the diversity of countries in the Asia Pacific region, with for example differences in levels of development and infrastructure, adaption of smart meter solutions will be crucial to their success.
In this 2016 interview with Engerati, Abhishek Kumar, principal consultant energy and environment for Frost & Sullivan, points to two primary drivers for AMI development in the region – grid modernisation, either industry or government driven, and loss reduction.
“We see a lot of activity and exciting opportunities coming up in the years ahead,” Kumar said.
However, he cautioned that the technology is not without its challenges. Besides the funding of such projects themselves, these include the need for a changing workforce culture and gaining of consumer acceptance. He also highlighted the need for new ideas on how the data can be utilised to introduce new products such as smart appliances and to help customers in their daily lives.
A similar view was expressed by Azmy Ameer, director of utility technology provider BBS Access Singapore, who commented on the need to understand the individual needs on a utility by utility basis.
“Smart metering is key for our future and needs to address our challenges,” he said. “We need to be innovative, both with the technology we deploy but also in the way we use it. In this way AMI can be the enabler of the future energy markets.”
For the Asian Development Bank, which supports more sustainable energy use, the rollout of smart meters is a top near-term priority towards the wider adoption of smart grid technologies and renewable energies.