As stimulus (ARRA) money continues to fund projects intended to stimulate the US economy and workforce, and with the project mandates, particularly from the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Labor (DOL), including the requirement to show measurable, positive economic impact in the short-term as well as long-term, it's time for MarketWatch to review the 'when' answer provided above.
Some of the larger grants from DOE are co-funding critical 'Smart Grid' and 'Smart Meter' projects that are not only moving the US more quickly on a renewable energy track, but are having significant stimulating effects on the semiconductor and electronics industries.
The Smart Grid, and the requisite smart meters to enable the Smart Grid, is, for semiconductor interests, essentially, a bidirectional communication system. This entails not only an increase in hardware that now is no longer an analog device, but a bidirectional digital device, the smart meter, that also opens the floodgates to the consumer market in the form of various in-home and business devices which allow the energy consumer to directly govern their energy use in real, or near-real time. The interactive devices, the ability of new consumer devices that can be governed, as well as the meters themselves all point in one direction: Semi is quite certainly being stimulated and the clock has now been quite certainly started.
A cautionary note: with SEMI's book-to-bill numbers just out, and the outlook holding steadily in positive territory (happily) but with only slow capital expenditures (CAPEX) increases, will the industry be ready and able to handle these stimulating events?
In the next issue of MarketWatch Quarterly, due out in January, watch for a focused analysis of the effects of the enactment of the smart grid and smart metering technology on the semiconductor and electronics industry.