Smart grid technology could remain split - consultancy

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

As state power company CFE begins to implement smart grid infrastructure in the country's national grid (SEN), technology could remain split between RF wireless mesh and powerline communication (PLC) rather than one or the other, US smart grid consultancy Northeast Group's research director Chris Testa told BNamericas, elaborating on a report.

CFE, which controls the entire grid, is already undertaking several smart grid pilot projects, the largest of which is for 90,000 meters in Acapulco that utilizes PLC followed by a RF project with 60,000 meters in Mexico City.

CFE is set to double the size of its Acapulco project, but that will be outstripped by a future expansion of the Mexico City project. The latter will ultimately be used as a model for national smart grid deployment. A split between RF and PLC could, however, continue as CFE's regional divisions run separate tenders for smart grid infrastructure.

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"Mexico is still very open as far as which way they want to go. There are obviously the connections with the US market [which primarily uses RF], but then you find that in the rest of Latin America and Europe there's more PLC. So Mexico is really still undecided, which is interesting," Testa said.

Neither Mexico's government nor CFE have yet established a concrete goal for smart grid development.

Brazil is the only country in Latin America that has set a smart grid implementation target: 63mn smart meters by 2020.

"Overall, Mexico will start large-scale smart grid deployments behind Brazil and perhaps Chile, but by 2020 Mexico will have the second largest smart grid market in Latin America," Northeast's report said.

Mexico's smart grid market is expected to reach US$8.3bn cumulatively through 2020. The total includes US$5.1bn associated with 21.3mn smart meters and US$2.1bn from automated distribution. The amounts assume large-scale smart meter deployment begins in 3-5 years.