By 2020, the Netherlands plans to have 15 million smart gas and electricity meters installed as part of a national rollout following a successful smart meter pilot, according to Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs Henk Kamp.

In a letter to the Dutch parliament, Minister Kamp wrote that the smart energy meter has proven itself in practice and that all households and small companies will be offered the new units in six years’ time.

Kamp said: “The smart digital meter is needed to prepare our electricity grid for the future. More and more households generate their own energy and supply excess electricity to the grid. The new meters are needed to balance the continuous change in supply and demand and to ensure that a reliable energy supply is guaranteed.

“From the evaluations it now appears that national introduction of the smart meter is not really hampered in any way.”

During the trial period since 2012, which saw the European country deploying 600,000 smart meters, the Authority for Consumers & Markets (ACM) and Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO.nl) conducted research into the rollout, customer satisfaction and energy savings.

Recommendations
The most important recommendation from the research is that consumers should be better informed about the potential opportunities to save energy.

Network operators and companies providing energy services must cooperate to a better extent and there should be a level playing field. They should be more transparent in rollout planning and locations to enable energy retailers and energy service providers to better market their products and services, the research said.

The report also recommended that consumers need to be better informed about bi-monthly usage statements, which are the standard smart meter feedback for consumers in the Netherlands.

To improve the usage of the statements, the report suggested that these statements should initially be sent by regular post instead of email to avoid confusing them for spam.

Interface design
Another key finding was energy companies need to match user interface design with customers’ practical preference and engagement with energy efficiency.

Sophisticated energy management systems were found to appeal to consumers with a high level of awareness of energy monitoring and control.

Consumers who are less engaged and less skilled were found to prefer basic in-home displays.

Research showed that as the market for energy services is still developing, there is lack of service providers offering more simple solutions and the dominant trend is for suppliers to go for more complex systems.

The Netherlands has around 7.6 million households, 95 per cent of which have a gas connection.

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