Latin American governments should prioritize investment in distribution engineering to control the damaging power loss that occurs across the region, according to the latest BNamericas Electric Power Intelligence Series report.
Infrastructure has been left on the sidelines, while the demand boom has led authorities to focus on generation and transmission, with little concern for integrated, up-to-date systems.
This has led to high levels of electricity losses and theft, meaning Latin America as a whole loses 17% of power in distribution. Uruguay shows the highest rate, with 23.7% of power lost in distribution, Colombia with 19.5% and Mexico with 17.1%, the report said, using figures from GridWeek 2008 and Eclac.
Another hurdle for regional smart grid development is the business model in the generation-distribution market, which doesn't do enough to encourage residential power generation - a vital part of the smart grid philosophy.
Some countries have made overtures toward smart grid integration, with Brazil working on regulation for smart grids, expected to come into force in 2012. Mexico is also at the ready, as smart grid pilot schemes are being developed in both Mexico City and Acapulco.
In Panama, the ageing distribution system in capital Panama City, run in two separate parts, will be modernized through a tender in 2013 that incorporates smart grid technology.
In business terms, the regional perspectives are quite promising. According to a report from consultancy Northeast Group, by the year 2020 the Latin American smart grid market will be worth some US$25bn.
Follow this link for the report, "Smart grids spread to Latin America," in full.