Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

South America set to be key market for smart grid investment

Steve Rogerson
August 25, 2015
South America is positioned to be a key market for smart grid infrastructure investment over the next decade, according to a report from US consultancy Northeast Group. However, the region's power sector is plagued by pervasive electricity theft, poor reliability and operational inefficiencies.
Utilities in South America are now looking to smart grid infrastructure to solve these problems and large-scale deployments are already underway. The region will invest $38.1bn in modernising its power infrastructure from 2015 to 2025, according to the study.
"Brazil is by far the largest market in the region for smart grid investment," said Ben Gardner, president of Northeast Group. "After several false starts, the country is now beginning large-scale deployments. In just the past year, Brazilian utilities have announced deployments of over three million smart meters and will invest $25.6bn over the next ten years."
He said that beyond Brazil, countries such as Colombia, Ecuador, Chile and Argentina were serious about grid modernisation and planning significant investment.
"In total, South America will invest $22.6bn in smart metering, $7.2bn in distribution automation and $8.3bn in other smart grid market segments over the forecast period," he said.
Utilities in the region see smart metering as the most effective tool for combating rampant electricity theft. About nine per cent of South America's electricity is stolen, with some service territories' theft rates exceeding 30 per cent. Smart grid infrastructure will also help the region to incorporate vast renewable energy potential by helping to manage the intermittency of these resources.
Vendors view South America as one of the next key battlegrounds for winning major contracts. International players such as ABB, Aclara, Alstom, Elster, GE, Iskraemeco, Itron, Kamstrup, Landis & Gyr, Schneider, S&C, SEL, Sensus, Siemens, Silver Spring Networks, Trilliant and Ziv are all well positioned in the market. Several local vendors are also competitive such as Weg, ELO, Nansen and CAM.
South Americais emerging as a key geography for Chinese vendors hoping to steal market share from the European and North America vendors. Recently, Hexing acquired Eletra Energia to boost its position in Brazil and Wasion has announced smart meter projects in Brazil. Other Chinese vendors will be looking for similar deals.