A smart future


It is with some humility and trepidation that I take up the reigns as Editor of this esteemed journal. It is also with great pleasure: the Metering industry worldwide is undergoing massive changes and the technological scope it offers for a new ‘smart society’ seems at once futuristic and yet entirely achievable.

With the current global financial crisis in full swing, efficiencies in any sector are welcomed, and in the utility sector – especially electricity, water and gas – the ability to meter, manage and control both the supply and the demand side has never been more welcome. The global uptake of Smart Meters, and its accompanying communications technology, holds the promise of a new management system – the Smart Grid – which will see the generation, transmission and distribution of power becoming inextricably linked with enduser behaviour and increased participation. Never before have ordinary members of the public been in a position to not only control their consumption, but also to actually give back to the national grid in the form of feed-in tariffs and electricity storage.

Compiling this issue has been a fascinating exercise. Being new to this sector, for me it was an early journey of discovery, and for those of you who have been in it for a while, I want to impress on you the sense of wonder that these amazing technological advances represent. Starting in Scandinavia, we take a look at implementing a web-based customer service platform that enables efficient self-service solutions (p.30), customer retention through market segmentation (p.32) and how the rollout of Smart Meters is resulting in the Smart Grid (p.34). Moving to a quite different part of the world, we take an in-depth look at the rollout of Smart Metering in various countries of the Middle East (p.42), concluding that this region is fast becoming highly competitive in this regard. On page 50, we take a serious look at Data Protection in the United Kingdom and Europe; and from Australia (p.56) Paul Sell provides a considered view of the critical role of policy and regulation in the rollout of Smart Meters, drawing some important conclusions.

Moving on to the Americas, it is with great pleasure that the publishers have retained the skills and expertise of Jonathan Spencer Jones, who remains with this publication as editor for that region (p.62 onwards). We dig down a bit on the technology side and take a look at metering components (p.92) and the very important issue of materials for meter casings (p.88). The future is well and truly here on page 96, as we move to Spain to look at the fundamentals of designing a Smart City.

This is just a taste of what is on offer in this edition and we hope that you enjoy reading it every bit as much we have enjoyed compiling it. From the Smart Energy International Team, we wish you well over the festive season and all the best for a successful 2009.

Nicholas McDiarmid Editor, Smart Energy International