The UK, just like many other developed countries that have deployed or are in the process of implementing smart meter technology, is witnessing huge challenges to do so.
From lack of adequate funding, technology failures, regulatory uncertainty due to Brexit, consumer resistance and the failure by utilities to meet installation deadlines due to a perceived lack of commitment, together with a wide range of other issues are hindering the rollout.
According to UK energy regulator Ofgem, a key challenge cited by suppliers during 2017 was securing installation appointments with customers.
Chris Martin, specialists in smart metering and technology contracts at UK law firm Out-Law.com, said smart meter adoption is unlikely to meet government expectations as energy suppliers face regulatory obligations to spur interest in smart metering among property owners.
The UK has plans to deploy smart meters to approximately 50 million households by 2020.
Despite the challenges or delay in the rollout, the UK government is confident it will meet the 2020 deadline. Government reports highlight increases in utility adoption and in consumer awareness and satisfaction.
Here are five things you need to know about the UK smart meter rollout:
- According to Smart Meters Quarterly Report to end March 2018 Great Britain, a report/study compiled by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the UK witnessed a 10% increase in smart meter installation in the first quarter of 2018 compared to the previous quarter.
1.2 million units were deployed for domestic customers and 17,300 for smaller non-domestic customers by the large utilities during the first quarter of 2018.
By the end of March, 12.3 million smart and advanced meters had been installed in homes and businesses by both large and small energy suppliers.
- The majority of large utilities reached the 2017 annual smart meter installation milestones they set for themselves. However, there are utilities which failed to meet targets set by Ofgem and had to pay penalties.
- The majority of installed meters are first-generation smart meters, compliant with the first version of the Smart Metering Equipment Technical Specifications (SMETS1).
Greg Clark, secretary of BEIS, said only 1,000 SMETS2 models have been installed and connected to the Data Communications Company, to date. SMETS2 units enable customers to switch service providers.
- The UK government will by the end of this year publish an action plan to overcome technical and operational barriers hindering the rollout of smart meters.
- All large suppliers and most small suppliers are now DCC users.
According to the SmartEnergy GB, the DCC provides the communications infrastructure that handles smart meter data. They make sure smart meters have the right information to generate consumer bills.