Global Data, a UK-based research and analyses firm, released a report about the increased speed of smart grid adoption in North America earlier this month.
Incentive funds for clean energy adoption in the US led to widespread adoption of smart meters. In Canada, the smart grid growth has been more sporadic, according to the report, spurred primarily by individual utility companies and their specific incentive programs.
The report said Canada’s smart grid stands to grow to 20 times its current size by 2020.
While first-world nations around the globe are adopting smart grid technology, the drivers behind adoption differ.
“The key motivations behind the smart grid investments in the US are reducing dependence on imported crude and reviving the national economy,” writes Global Data analyst Megha Tayal Narang. “The smart grid growth in Europe, on the contrary, is being driven by the goal to reach emission reduction targets laid down by European Union as the 20-20-20 Targets.”
Smart grid development will be key to managing a growing reliance on renewable energy like solar power, Narang said.
“Smart grid will help reduce the stability and reliability concerns associated with renewable resources,” she writes “ and encourage retail consumers to participate in energy generation through their small-scale generation sources such as roof-top solar photovoltaic panels.”
Where smart grid adoption could spur additional solar and other renewable energy investments in the US, Canada is already using renewable energy as a major source of power generation, Narang said. And the smart grid adoption is happening as a result and in tandem.
While smart grid growth is strong in the US, it still has a long road ahead of it, she said.
“It is unlikely that the US market for smart grid technologies will experience saturation in the next five-ten years,” Narang writes. “The market will continue to grow at least until 2030 when the US Department of Energy expects the smart grid to become functional.”