The following six trends are driving the development of smart grids globally.
- Growing and substantial investment in lowering the cost of energy storage. Example: $7.3b US government investment in energy storage.
- Continued global growth in the demand for solar PV. Installed global capacity by 2020 is expected to reach 500 GW. In 2013 global installed capacity reached 100 GW.
- Major economies investing in smart-grid infrastructure. Example Chinese investment in electric car charging infrastructure.
- Smarter metering and demand management solutions becoming more prevalent. Demand management examples from the U.S. and Japan.
- Increasing private investment, which is much more agile than central government controlled investment. This trend dates back a few years and is continuing.
- Decentralised lighting systems jumping ahead of rural electrification in developing countries. Spin-off technologies could contribute to a much cheaper smart grid.
Policy around electricity networks should take these trends into account.