The Chinese government will be sinking $7.3 billion into the creation of a cleaner, more energy efficient Smart Grid in 2010, actually beating out the U.S.’s investment in the same area by more than $200 million, and rising to the top of the global list of Smart Grid leaders.
The news indicates how Asia’s largest country is getting serious about distributed energy generation, renewable sources like solar and wind, and transmission inefficiencies — all of which a more developed Smart Grid would tie together. It has become such a priority there, that China is actually spending more on grid improvements than it will on power generation projects. This is a major turnabout for the nation, which has been growing its energy infrastructure as fast as it can to promote economic growth.
Still, the sum committed to building a smarter grid may not be enough. Last year, Bloomberg released a report recommending that the country invest $10 billion a year at least for the next decade in order to successfully deploy smart meters, demand response programs, and home energy management systems.
Just as the construction of a super grid in the U.S. has drawn interest from companies based overseas — Siemens leaps to mind — China’s new initiatives have attracted attention from the biggest American players, including General Electric, Cisco Systems, Oracle, ABB and Accenture (all names that played a role in VentureBeat’s GreenBeat 2009 conference on the Smart Grid last November). IBM has even estimated its potential revenue from Chinese Smart Grid development at $100 million a year. Look for all of these corporations to be staking out their claims in China this year before the Smart Grid gains momentum.
With Japan and South Korea coming in third and fourth place (according to a ranking by research firm Zpryme), respectively, when it comes to federal stimulus money for grid improvements, it looks like Asia is poised to become the powerhouse in this area of the green sector. Spain and Germany (in fifth and sixth place) continue to dominate in the solar industry, but haven’t placed as much emphasis on electricity transmission.
Even though China is technically trumping the U.S. in Smart Grid funding, the slim margin between the two says good things about efforts in America. China has a lot more ground and people to cover with almost the same amount of money. The U.S. government’s commitment to spend $7.1 billion suggests that efforts will transcend basic smart metering and take a more holistic approach to energy management.
Recent Smart Grid announcements from both the U.S. and China fit into predictions that the number of smart meters in the world will jump from 76 million last year to 212 million in 2014 (estimated by ABI Research). This feat will also be helped by Europe’s so-called “Energy Package” which includes the replacement of all traditional electric meters with smart replacements by 2022.