Electricity metering is undergoing its greatest transformation since the first meter was installed more than 120 year ago. Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), integrating two-way communications with energy measurement, is on the front lines of utility smart grid deployments, promising major energy savings by changing how and when customers use electricity. According to a new report from Pike Research, more than 250 million smart meters will be installed worldwide by 2015, representing a penetration rate of 18% of all electrical meters by that time, up from 46 million in 2008.

“Smart meters are the vanguard of smart grid deployments,” says managing director Clint Wheelock. “Current AMI rollouts are breaking the traditional 15- to 20-year meter replacement cycle, and represent an unprecedented effort to add intelligence and communications to electrical metering.” Wheelock adds that, while Europe is currently the top region for smart meter adoption, North America will become the leading market in 2010, reaching 55% penetration of all electric meters by 2015.

Pike Research segments the smart meter market into two primary categories: Basic meters, which transmit energy usage data over two-way communications networks, and Advanced meters, which include basic functionality in addition to remote disconnect and home area networking (HAN) capabilities. The cleantech market intelligence firm forecasts that total smart meter shipments will reach 39.5 million units by 2015, representing a $3.9 billion global market.

Pike Research’s report, Smart Meters, examines global and regional Smart Meter trends, explores neighborhood-area and home-area communications technologies and standards, defines “Basic” versus “Advanced” meter capabilities, and provides detailed market forecasts by technology and world region. Key vendors, standards, and deployments are profiled, offering a comprehensive window into the dynamic market for smart metering.