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Smart Grid and Energy Storage Installations Rising
Driven by increasing shares of renewable energy in the electricity generation mix and by the need to update aging grid infrastructure, global investment in “smart grid” technologies rose 7 percent in 2012, totaling $13.9 billion worldwide.1 A smart grid is an electricity network that uses digital information and communications technologies to improve the efficiency and reliability of electricity transport.2 The increasing use of highly variable energy resources requires sophisticated control systems to facilitate their integration into the electricity grid.
The United States topped other countries in investment in smart grids, spending $4.3 billion in 2012, although that was 19 percent below the 2011 figure of $5.1 billion.3 China invested $3.2 billion in 2012, an increase of 14 percent over 2011.4 Smart grid directives in the European Union (EU) drove a 27 percent increase in European spending to $1.4 billion in 2012, up from $1.1 billion in 2011.5 Latin American investment in smart grid technology remains relatively small, totaling $400 million in 2012.6 (See Figure 1.) In addition to investments, many countries have formal nationwide development plans and regulatory frameworks for smart grids.
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