The escalating need to optimize vital energy resources is driving the adoption of automation systems such as supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) in Southeast Asia. While conventional end users such as coal and gas-fired plants will continue to employ SCADA systems, the demand from bio-power and hydroelectricity segments of the power industry is likely to strengthen. In addition, initiatives by governments in Southeast Asia to invest in renewable energy sources and improve efficiency while reducing emissions and costs are opening up lucrative opportunities for automation vendors.

Consequently, SCADA market revenues in the region will go up from US$148.7 million in 2012 to reach an estimated US$274.8 million in 2018, according to the new study, Southeast Asia SCADA Market, from Frost & Sullivan. Web-based SCADA systems, in particular, will become popular.

"Supportive government policies and investment incentives across several countries further enhance the prospects for SCADA solution providers," said Frost & Sullivan Industrial Automation & Process Control Research Analyst Krishnan Ramanathan. "The rapid expansion of end-user industries, including oil and gas as well as power, water and wastewater industries in the emerging countries of Southeast Asia also catalyzes SCADA implementation."

Despite this demand for durable automation solutions, the lack of basic infrastructure in several remote sites in the region hampers the deployment as well as performance of SCADA systems.

In addition, increased security problems detected by experts have made Southeast Asian end users skeptical about deploying SCADA systems. Advances such as Web-based reporting and remote operator access are heightening the need to interface SCADA with the Internet, in turn exposing these systems to malware such as Stuxnet.

"Automation majors have realised that there is no specific standard or protocol applicable to SCADA systems to ensure security," noted Ramanathan.

"Open architecture is thus becoming vital to meet stringent end-user requirements in the region," he added.

Most large participants will prosper in the Southeast Asian SCADA market while smaller players are expected to gain opportunities on a limited scale owing to the lack of adequate resources to invest in developing technologies.