In the UK, the National Audit Office (NAO), the public spending watchdog, has highlighted risks to the national smart metering rollout programme, scheduled for 2020, including customer resistance and lack of smart prepayment systems.

In a review of the UK government’s progress on the smart metering programme, the NAO found that progress is good however they flagged up risks to the delivery of 53 million meters in eight years‘ time.

The briefing found that the current home area network radio system is not suitable for up to 30 per cent of premises, such as high rise flats or buildings with thick walls, and suppliers have been developing a solution based on a different frequency of radio signal.

In addition, some energy suppliers have not yet developed their smart meter prepayment systems.

The risks also include customer resistance to the installation of smart meters, the need for suppliers and others in the industry to resolve outstanding technical issues, the readiness of suppliers, network operators and the supply chain for large-scale installation, and the robustness of the data security and privacy arrangements.

And although the foundation stage of the programme has allowed suppliers to test and trial smart metering equipment, only two of the big six suppliers have installed a significant number of meters.

Net benefits down

The NAO also finds that the economic case for the deployment remains “positive”, despite reducing the total net benefits of smart metering from

GB£8.3 billion to GB£6.2 billion, as a result of the one-year delay to the completion of mass roll-out.

The benefit-to-cost ratio for the smart metering rollout to 2030 has remained at around £1.60 of benefit for every £1 spent.

For the full NAO briefing, click here

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