Electricity utilities across EMEA not realizing the full potential of the smart grid during deployment, survey finds


London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — October 29, 2010 – Utilities are making progress towards the implementation of smart grid infrastructures, but will be unable to reap the full benefits of the technology because they are not considering the key capabilities it delivers, according to a new study by Oracle Utilities.

Additionally, utilities are concerned that their current IT systems lack the flexibility to scale to the full potential delivered by smart grids and smart meters in the long term.

The study, entitled “The EMEA Smart Grid Rollout”, conducted by IT market research consultancy Vanson Bourne, set out to discover the progress utilities are making towards the rollout of smart grids and smart meters, and whether the benefits of these technologies are being realized. The study researched the views and opinions of 50 senior electricity utility executives across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Among the key findings were that the majority of utilities have already deployed, have begun or plan to begin a phased program for the adoption of smart meters. More than half expect to have smart meters rolled out within five years and just under half expect to achieve return on investment (ROI) in five years, but nearly a quarter don’t know when this will be achieved.

Half of the utilities are concerned that their current IT applications will not be able to scale to their needs, but 35% already have in place new systems able to store the additional data from smart metering and extract intelligence from it, and a similar number expect to have these installed within five years. However, 12% have not yet begun to assess the systems they will require to extract intelligence from smart metering data and a further 12% have no plans to put these in place.

And despite the rise in electric vehicle (EV) adoption, utilities have made little preparation for this, with almost half not planning to use smart grids for EV adoption. Indeed 80% do not consider EVs to be a priority for them at this time.

“It’s positive to see that utilities are taking active steps towards planning and implementing their smart grid roadmap,” commented Bastian Fischer, vice president and general manager of Oracle Utilities, EMEA. “Despite the vast range of new possibilities, the majority of utilities are not leveraging the process innovations and intelligence available to them through the smart grid infrastructure.”

The report concludes that in order for utilities to make the most of smart meters and deliver ROI, they need to put in place a transition plan by first stating what exactly they want to achieve. There are many features available through the use of smart meters but not all are relevant to all countries and regions. Utilities need to examine their marketplace and take a staged approach to adoption based on the most immediate needs, and what will deliver most benefits and ROI in the short term.

Smart grids and smart meters will play a large part of any utilities future and it is imperative that they continue with the progress already made to ensure they are ready to take advantage of all the opportunities that the technology brings.