Seeking to lower the ratio of electricity consumption to economic output, reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions via demand management, and encourage energy efficiency, utilities and governments across the Asia Pacific region are investing heavily in smart grid technologies. Transitioning to a smart grid is seen as a key goal of national energy policy by governments in China, Japan, South Korea, India, and other APAC nations. While much of the market attention has focused on advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), transmission upgrades and distribution automation (DA) systems actually represent the largest opportunities within APAC. According to a recent report from Pike Research, cumulative revenue from transmission upgrades alone will total $93 billion between 2010 and 2017. Cumulative revenue from smart transmission and distribution (T&D) systems will reach $123.3 billion, representing 72% of all APAC smart grid investment over that period.

AMI revenue in Asia Pacific will total $25.6 billion from 2010 to 2017, the cleantech market intelligence firm forecasts.

“Market potential for the smart grid in APAC is directly related to China’s huge investments in installing the essential components of power infrastructure over the next decade,” says senior analyst Andy Bae. “And China’s smart grid commitments are closely related to the country’s urgent power imbalance issues. China is attempting to solve these problems via the full completion of transmission capabilities.”

Indeed, smart grid strategies vary widely according to each country’s priorities and most urgent needs. In China, most investment priorities will target T&D upgrades, especially in ultra-high voltage and ultra-high voltage direct current construction. Japan, on the other hand, will take a much wider and systematic approach to creating world-leading green social systems by leveraging its existing leadership in IT and high-end technologies, while South Korea plans to form an advanced smart grid structure by leveraging its technology leadership in the IT and communications space.