Northeast Group has released its South America Smart Grid Market Forecast (2011-2020), which projects the smart meter market alone will reach 104.5 million meters and $25.1 billion by 2020. Other smart grid technologies – including distribution automation – will also grow quickly in the region. Brazil will be first to begin large-scale deployments. Chile and Argentina will be next to follow, with other countries set to launch deployments in the latter half of the decade.

"South America's potential for smart grid is often overlooked. In the U.S. and Europe where large-scale deployments are well underway, smart grid benefits center on demand reductions, savings in meter reading costs and reliability improvements. In the emerging market context, the benefit case often rests on electricity theft reduction, social and economic development benefits and other region-specific drivers," according to Northeast Group, LLC.

"The South America region exhibits several market conditions attractive for smart grid development compared with other emerging market regions such as Asia. These include per capita energy consumption and non-technical loss (theft) rates higher than Asia, as well as enormous potential for distributed generation. All are key drivers of smart grid, yet South America has lagged behind other emerging markets. This is about to change as governments in the region begin to take action in developing regulatory frameworks to encourage smart grid," according to Northeast Group, LLC.

Brazil is the leading country in South America with a smart grid regulatory framework in development and attractive market conditions. Brazil's actions are expected to lay the groundwork for deployments in neighboring countries throughout the decade. Aging grid infrastructure and rapidly growing energy demand mean that large scale investment will be necessary to maintain regional GDP growth of more than 4% in the medium-term.