How the EU is Going Green

The energy policies of Western European countries are more synchronized than those in other regions, due to the influence exerted by the European Union (EU). In response to the threat of climate change, the EU has initiated a broad regional shift towards a green energy economy that requires very significant smart-grid infrastructure investment.

Several consequences of this regional policy have already happened, including national smart meter rollouts and rapid integration of renewable energy resources across the continent. Smart-meter rollouts would go a long way in addressing both Western Europe's high electricity prices and high levels of electricity consumption. The drive for sustainability and green initiatives will cause renovations and construction projects across the region.

Countries in the region are diverse, including those still largely open to advanced-metering infrastructure (AMI) investment, those undertaking large-scale rollouts, and those already beginning AMI replacement cycles. The AMI installed base is already significant across the region and distribution automation (DA) will present significant opportunities in the next decade.

Barriers for the market are limited. Even with low-gross domestic product growth rates, the region is wealthy, precluding issues of funding that are encountered elsewhere. Public opinion is also behind energy efficiency and green energy initiatives. The main concern is unforeseen economic turbulence. Smart-grid programs, particularly for countries in Southern Europe such as Greece or Portugal, could be vulnerable to government cutbacks. Another limiting factor is that contracts have been awarded or rollouts completed in many countries.

Smart meters will allow for further investment in other segments of smart grid infrastructure including DA, IT, and battery storage, and others. Smart meters will allow for a more advanced electricity retail market to develop, featuring demand response programs and more options for tariff structures. The move toward a customer-oriented market made possible by AMI will drive rather than curb overall smart grid investment. Being in tune with this market will help contractors move these projects into the future.

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