(Bloomberg ) Investments in smart-grid technologies that boost efficiency and curb energy waste rose 7 percent last year to $13.9 billion, driven by spending in China, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
China raised investments by 14 percent to $3.2 billion, largely because of a smart-metering program, according to the London-based research company. It forecasts Chinese spending on smart grids will outstrip the U.S. this year, where it fell 16 percent to $4.3 billion.
Investments in the so-called energy-smart technologies may reach $25.2 billion by 2018, BNEF said. Those include meters that enable customers to monitor their energy use and provide immediate feedback to utilities. Companies use the data to set variable pricing and smooth fluctuations in demand, ultimately saving the cost of running more generators.
"Asia and Europe will be responsible for the greatest spending increases between 2013 and 2018," said Albert Cheung, head of analysis for energy-smart technologies at BNEF. "Utilities, policy makers and regulators are increasingly aware of the economic, environmental and reliability benefits of smart grid technologies."
Companies developing smart meters include Britain's Smart Metering Systems Plc (SMS) which is part-held by BlackRock Inc. (BLK) and Investec Asset Management Ltd., and Germany's Power Plus Communications AG, backed by Siemens AG (SIE), a unit of Centrica Plc and Climate Change Capital Ltd. In the U.S. Itron Inc. (ITRI) and Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) are providing equipment to a smart-meter program in Massachusetts that's being administered by National Grid Plc. (NG/)
General Electric Co. (GE), Elster Group SE (ELTTY) and Toshiba Corp. (6502)'s Landis+Gyr also manufacture energy smart technologies.
Investments in Asia reached $5.6 billion as countries including Japan, India, Korea and other southeast Asian nations started using the technology.
Spending in Europe reached $1.4 billion and may accelerate after 2014 as countries including Britain and France begin major installations programs, the statement said. The U.K. government expects to install 53 million smart meters in homes and businesses across the country by 2019.