Investments in smart-grid technologies that boost efficiency and curb energy waste rose 7 percent last year to $13.9 billion, driven by spending in China, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

China raised investments by 14 percent to $3.2 billion, largely because of a smart-metering program, according to the London-based research company. It forecasts Chinese spending on smart grids will outstrip the U.S. this year, where it fell 16 percent to $4.3 billion.

Investments in the so-called energy-smart technologies may reach $25.2 billion by 2018, BNEF said. Those include meters that enable customers to monitor their energy use and provide immediate feedback to utilities. Companies use the data to set variable pricing and smooth fluctuations in demand, ultimately saving the cost of running more generators.

“Asia and Europe will be responsible for the greatest spending increases between 2013 and 2018,” said Albert Cheung, head of analysis for energy-smart technologies at BNEF. “Utilities, policy makers and regulators are increasingly aware of the economic, environmental and reliability benefits of smart grid technologies.”

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