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According to a new study by NextGen Research, "Smart Grid Applications: Demand Response, Decentralized Generation and Smart Meters Increase Electrical Networks' Capabilities, Efficiency and Reliability," utilities and governments around the world spent more than $12 billion upgrading, strengthening and smartening their electrical power grids in 2008 - an amount projected to grow to more than $33 billion through 2014.

The study's author, research analyst Atakan Ozbek, says he found no clear leadership of the smart-grid sector between North America and Europe, the two regions showing the highest levels of smart-grid related development.

"While the European markets have a higher number of installed smart meters, one of the essential components of future smart-grid networks, the U.S. smart-grid market has seen a greater level of activity since late 2007," says Ozbek, adding that that by the end of the study's forecast period (2014), the U.S. will overtake Europe in its number of smart meters installed.

Ozbek says it is encouraging for the smart-grid sector that governments are allocating billions for upgrades to existing electrical networks to improve their reliability, interactive capabilities and openness to renewable energy sources. However, he adds that a lack of industry-wide smart-grid standards is hindering the sector's growth potential.

A number of different electrical and electronic/IT systems must cooperate in a smart grid; a lack of standards means integrators must learn which systems will work together out of the box and which require substantial additional integration, according to the report.

For more information, visit nextgenresearch.com.

SOURCE: NextGen Research

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