Several Central and Eastern Europe countries represent compelling opportunities for smart grid investments but are often overshadowed by their Western European neighbors.
Smart meter spending alone in the region will reach $10.3 billion cumulatively by 2023, with almost all electric utilities completing full smart meter deployments over that time period.
Countries covered in this analysis include: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
"Central and Eastern Europe is the most advanced region among emerging market countries for smart grid and smart meter deployments," according to Northeast Group. "All ten countries covered in this study are expected to adopt E.U. smart meter regulations over the course of this decade, and some already have extensive smart grid roadmaps in place. At the same time, with lower electricity demand levels compared with Western Europe, it's not clear if all Central and Eastern Europe countries will meet the EU targets. Each country's unique energy sector drivers are determining whether or not it will meet prescribed targets."
The E.U. has mandated that all member states deploy smart meters to 80 percent of customers by 2020, if economically feasible. All E.U. countries were meant to complete smart metering cost-benefit analyses by September 2012, but fewer than half of the ten countries in the region have done so. Most Central and Eastern Europe countries claim they intend to meet the EU timelines, but have not yet officially transposed EU regulations into their national legislation.
"The E.U. regulations are still the driving force in the region," continued Northeast Group. "The EU provides guidelines on setting roadmaps, creating interoperability standards, ensuring data protection, and establishing costs and benefits for all stakeholders. These are advantages that many countries in other emerging market regions do not enjoy. Some Central and Eastern European countries may miss the E.U. 2020 deadline, but almost all of them will have a nearly full deployment of smart meters by the end of our forecast period in 2023."
Indeed, several utilities across Central and Eastern Europe already have plans in place. Estonia plans to deploy smart meters to 100 percent of its customers by 2017, while utilities in Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, and Slovenia also have plans for full smart meter rollouts.
In countries where cost-benefit analyses have been conducted, the result has almost always been positive. Once more of these analyses are completed, the EU mandate will begin compelling stronger regulatory action at the national level. This is expected within the next year or two.