Spending by utilities transitioning their networks to smart grid capabilities reached $23.68 billion in 2012. Highlighting the growing momentum behind the spending, 2012’s total alone represents 48% of smart grid spending to date. During the year, spending on transmission and distribution capabilities surpassed smart meter investments as utilities increasingly looked to improve their core networks and maximize the benefits of their growing Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) deployments.

“Utilities are investing in the rollout of a broad assortment of new applications and spending is driving new services from a wide range of vendors and consultants,” says Jonathan Collins, principal analyst at ABI Research. “The complexity of the new hardware, applications, and the expansive array of suppliers vying to deliver services continues to ensure that systems integrators benefit with a significant share of the spending.”

Smart grid spending in 2012 was up 47.1% from $16.10 billion in 2011 as remaining government stimulus funds were spent in the United States and utilities around the world increased their own investments. Even so, these remain the early years of Smart Grid investments and spending will continue to grow over the next five years to reach $80.8 billion during 2018.

ABI Research’s report, “Utilities and Smart Grids” forecasts a number of strategic investment areas including AMI, Demand Response, Grid Optimization, Distribution Automation, Software and Application provision, System Integration, and connectivity.