Complicating this effort is the incredible variety of electrical systems throughout the world, and the vast maze of utilities that are currently managing them.
Just in the U.S. market alone, there are more than 3,000 separate utilities, local governments, and private companies operating America's electrical grid.
According to the latest market study by NPD In-Stat, they now forecast that by 2016, over 75 percent of all U.S. electric meters will be converted to smart meters.
"Over the next five years, and for decades thereafter, the world will be deploying the smart grid," says Allen Nogee, Research Director at NPD In-Stat.
Initially, most of this effort will be directed at smart meters, but once those are out, client devices, software, and home automation equipment may all benefit as consumers and utilities make use of the information that smart meters provide.
While utilities will be big beneficiaries from the smart grid movement, consumers will also benefit -- with more choices in rate plans and a much better understanding of the link between their electricity usage and their associated cost.
The NPD In-Stat market study findings include:
- Worldwide smart meter revenue will surpass $12 billion in 2016.
- ZigBee leads in smart meter home area network technology; powerline and wireless lead in smart meter backhaul.
- China will deploy 280 million smart meters by 2016.
- The number of smart meters deployed in the US per year will decline after peaking in 2011, when stimulus money prompted utilities to update their meters, but worldwide, smart meter deployment will continue to grow.