World Loses $89.3 Billion Annually to Electricity Theft

December 11, 2014 by Jeff Shepard

Electricity theft is a widespread problem across the world, especially in many emerging market countries. Currently, the top 50 emerging market countries lose $58.7bn per year due to electricity theft, compared with just $30.6bn in the rest of the world, including the largest industrialized economies. These 50 emerging market countries will cumulatively invest $168bn over the next decade in smart grid infrastructure to combat theft and improve reliability, according to a new study published today by Northeast Group, LLC.

The annual Emerging Markets Smart Grid: Outlook 2015 study found that reducing theft, or "non-technical losses," in these 50 countries – including the BRICS – is an increasing priority for utilities and regulators. The study highlights key trends in power infrastructure modernization across the developing world.

"The fourth edition of our annual study highlights the transition towards smart grid infrastructure as electric utilities are realizing it's the most effective means for reducing non-technical losses," said Ben Gardner, President of Northeast Group. "India alone loses $16.2bn per year, followed by Brazil with $10.5bn and Russia with $5.1bn. By 2024, emerging market countries will be spending $29bn per year on smart grid infrastructure to combat this theft, boost reliability and improve the financial sustainability of utilities."

Northeast Group's study profiles each of the 50 developing countries, forecasts smart grid investment and highlights key trends for 2015. The study found that electricity prices have risen 17% over the past year—increasing the incentives for smart grid investment—and that vendors have shifted focus from their legacy businesses to smart infrastructure offerings. Swiss vendor Landis+Gyr is the current smart meter market leader in emerging markets, with ADD Grup, EDMI, Elster, GE, Iskraemeco, Itron, Kamstrup, NES (Echelon), Secure Meters, and Sensus all also active in multiple countries.

The 217-page study includes a smart grid regulatory country index that ranks countries and regional forecasts from 2014-2024. These forecasts cover smart metering, distribution automation, wide area measurement, home energy management and information technology. Profiles of each country are included as well as details on key vendors and market trends.