By 2020, more than 237 million smart electricity meters will be deployed across Europe and almost 90 percent of the installed electricity meters in Western Europe will be smart, according to a new report from Pike Research.
To achieve this goal, more than 30 million meters will need to be deployed annually during the peak years of activity and major upgrade programs will need to be executed in parallel in Europe’s largest countries, along with many smaller projects in a diverse range of countries and utilities.
The report says that the adoption of smart metering on this scale across many of the world’s most advanced economies will drive a new wave of technical and market innovation in electricity metering that will have an important impact on the global market.
With the move to mass deployment comes increasing scrutiny of the benefits of smart meters and their impact on consumers. The critical assessment of the value of smart meters will become more urgent as the next phase of large scale rollouts becomes a reality. The economic crisis in Europe has so far not been a brake on smart meter programs, but it is putting additional pressure on utilities and governments to ensure that the benefits of smart meters are realized and made visible to customers.
In Europe smart meter programs are not just a utility operations issue; they are also a core part of the energy policies of the European Union (EU) and of many national governments, the report notes. Smart meters have been given a key role in the EU’s ambitious program to produce a low carbon, energy efficient Europe.
In terms of the market, the biggest announced programs are in Spain, France, and the United Kingdom. The Spanish and British rollouts are already underway and will gain momentum over the next few years. France is expected to begin procurement for its national project in 2013. Again, the biggest uncertainty remains the German market. The German government has been driving a standard specification for smart meters, but has yet to commit to a mandated national program.
Germany’s policy should become clearer before the end of 2012. Norway and the Republic of Ireland are among the smaller countries that have recently announced a mandated program.
A number of countries in Eastern Europe have begun initial deployments of smart meters, notably the Czech Republic, Poland, and Russia. The need to secure revenue and reduce losses through theft and corruption provides an additional impetus to new meter deployments in Eastern Europe, which will gradually spur the deployment of smart metering solutions. The market outside the EU and in Eastern Europe, generally, will be characterized by smaller local deployments over the next few years, with larger-scale deployments developing in the second half of the decade and beyond.