Substantial net benefits projected for smart metering in Ireland


Dublin, Ireland — (METERING.COM) — May 19, 2011 – Substantial net benefits are projected for smart metering in Ireland under the majority of potential rollout scenarios, according to a new cost-benefit analysis on the project.

In particular, regarding the wide area network (WAN) communications technology scenarios, powerline carrier (PLC)/radio frequency (RF) communications shows higher net benefits than the other technologies examined, while regarding the informational stimuli bi-monthly billing with no in-home display consistently exhibits the highest benefits, although the margin is only €4 million compared to the next best option of bi-monthly billing with an in-home display.

The analysis is aimed at delivering a robust economic assessment of all the long term costs and benefits to the market and the individual consumer – both residential and small business – of a national electricity smart metering rollout.

The analysis finds that the total net present values (NPV) of the 12 rollout scenarios with different technologies, information stimuli and billing frequency range from €282 million to -€181 million, and these positive NPVs remain strong under a range of sensitivity analyses.

Regarding the communications technology scenarios, the other technologies examined were PLC-GPRS and GPRS alone, with the difference with PLC-RF potentially dependent on the value of key parameter assumptions and the attractiveness of GPRS dependent heavily on the assumed cost of network services.

Regarding the informational stimuli, their relative merits proved to be quite sensitive to the tariff band chosen, suggesting that there should be caution in basing decisions on the choice of stimulus in a rollout on the estimates of quantifiable benefits alone.

The analysis draws on the results of the customer behavior and technology trials, which were published alongside. In the customer behavior trials, residential customers with smart meters showed an overall reduction of 2.5 percent in demand but there was no impact on business customers. The technology trials found that while currently PLC could reliably deliver monthly readings, the PLC-based communications trialed has major issues to be overcome to deliver reliable daily collection from every meter, and that while the GPRS-based system generally worked well with good availability, scaling the system to significantly larger numbers may be an issue.

The other main finding of the cost-benefit analysis was that by the end of the analysis period the estimated CO2 emissions are 100,000-110,000 Tonnes below baseline each year and the annual SO2 emission is lower by 117-129 Tonnes.

The results of the cost-benefit analysis and the trials are now being considered by the CER. In August the CER will launch a consultation on the possible design of a national smart meter rollout program, with a decision on a national rollout and its design to be made in October.