Global investment in smart grid technologies has increased by 7% to $13.9bn in 2012, driven by spending in China, according to London-based research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).
China had raised investments by 14% to $3.2bn last year, largely due to a smart-metering programme in the country, where spending on smart grids is anticipated to outstrip the US in 2013.
Investments in energy-smart technologies, such as meters that would enable customers to monitor their energy use, are estimated to reach $25.2bn by 2018.
BNEF energy-smart technologies analysis head Albert Cheung noted that the "greatest spending increases" between 2013 and 2018 would come from Asia and Europe.
"Utilities, policy makers and regulators are increasingly aware of the economic, environmental and reliability benefits of smart grid technologies," Cheung added.
Smart grid investments in Asia totalled $5.6bn in 2012 as countries including India, Japan, and Korea started using the technology.
In Europe, spending has reached $1.4bn and may accelerate after 2014 as nations including the UK and France have begun major installations programmes.
The British government intends to install 53 million smart meters in houses and businesses across the UK by 2019.
Image: Asia and Europe may lead investments in smart grid in coming years.