A new report from Pike Research predicts a major shift in the market for smart grids over the course of the upcoming year.
Pike notes that smart grid technology has actually seen surprisingly dramatic progress over recent years, considering the stolid nature of the utility industry. North America alone has added around 40 million smart meters, around one-fifth of the entire global market.
However, as smart grid technology becomes more broadly used, the pressure on the industry to demonstrate real gains from the investment increases, either through lower costs or improved energy efficiency.
Part of this will depend on the continued implementation of service plans that take advantage of already available information, but the industry will likely need to shift its focus toward the development of smart grid applications.
"Relatively simple applications such as prepaid metering services should be straightforward, while others, like the integration of distribution automation with advanced metering infrastructure, and the adoption of microgrids, are more ambitious," Bob Gohn, vice president of Pike Research, said in a statement.
Pike similarly predicted that the smart grid industry could face continued opposition from consumer groups over privacy, cost and health concerns.