Smart grids are the future of energy distribution and represent a significant front in the effort to lower global emissions.

Using advanced metering technology, they create a two-way communication between the grid and appliances and are able to smoothly bring more renewable energy into the system. The net result is a more efficient flow and consumption of electricity — reducing costs for consumers and providers, lowering waste, and making power distribution more scalable to meet growing demand.

In 2010, China is the worldwide leader, having designated $7.32 billion for smart grid investment, based on data from Zpryme Research & Consulting, an Austin, Texas, research and consulting firm that draws on stated federal spending figures.

The United States was second at $7.09 billion; Japan was a distant third at $849 million and South Korea was fourth at $824 million. The first European nation was Spain, which finished fifth at $807 million.

The below graphic shows the full top ten, with countries’ sized relative to smart grid investment amount.

 

The smart grid race: Click to enlarge.

* Learn about today’s $2 billion investment that GE is making in China, including two joint ventures on smart grid technologies
* Take a look under the microscopes in our Shanghai lab