In Japan, major electric utilities are looking to speed up the deployment of residential smart meters in 2015 in preparation for the liberalising of the local electricity retail market in 2016.
Rollouts by several large energy companies this year could see the volume of smart meters exceeding 10 million by the end of 2015, reports newspaper The Japan Times.
Utilities including Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) and Kansai Electric Power Co., plan to install about 7.5 million smart meters nationwide, more than double the number installed in 2014 - 3.66 million.
Japan's 10 major utilities will kick off widespread smart meter rollouts between 2016 and 2024, by when an expected 78 million units will be in place for residential and low-use customers.
Commercial smart meters
Four utilities - Tohoku Electric Power Co., TEPCO, Hokuriku Electric Power Co. and Kyushu Electric Power Co. - have installed 750,000 smart meters at commercial premises - and expect to complete their rollouts by the end of 2016 fiscal year, the newspaper reports.
The need for smart meters is rising partly because the retail sale of electricity will be completely liberalized in April 2016, allowing ordinary households to choose which electricity supply company to use.
New services are also likely to be created utilizing smart meter data-communication functionality.
The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry will also hold debates this year on the reinforcement of safety measures for smart meters.