Europe is likely to fail in meeting the target of covering 80% of the electricity customers with smart meters by 2020, according to a new report from the research firm Berg Insight.
Germany’s decision not to deploy smart meters and delays in the rollouts in a number of countries including France will result in a penetration rate in the range of 60–70% by the end of this decade.
While lower than anticipated when the EU first announced its energy efficiency goals for the 2010s, the rate of adoption is nevertheless impressive. Berg Insight forecasts that the installed base of smart electricity meters will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 18.5% in the next six years from 61.5 million units at the end of 2013 to 170.1 million units in 2019.
“Until 2019, more than 100 million European households are set to receive intelligent metering devices, capable of communicating with smart grids,” said Tobias Ryberg, senior analyst and author of the report.
Berg Insight’s projections are based on the current official timeframe for smart meter rollouts in the EU member states. As Ryberg points out, there is however a significant risk that some of the projects will be further delayed.
The process of defining functional and technical requirements for the new solution in a manner that satisfies the various stakeholders involved has many potential pitfalls, ranging from technical issues to financing and public opinion outbreaks. Smart meters are easily perceived by consumers as driving costs and potentially threatening privacy.
Berg Insight believes that the best approach for addressing these issues is for the governments to step in and establish independent platforms for smart metering, as well as other smart grid applications, which are trusted, neutral and jointly financed by the stakeholders for whom they create benefits.
“Smarter grids require smarter regulations that create a better balance between the public good and the interest of the various players in the post-unbundling energy value-chain”, said Ryberg.