20 million smart meters – and counting 

20 million smart meters – and counting 

The 20 millionth smart meter has just been installed in the UK. Let’s find out more about the smart meter rollout and look to the future.

It’s fair to say that the UK’s smart meter rollout hasn’t gone as smoothly as the government would have hoped when it first began in 2011. There have been several technical issues, notably when it was discovered that many smart meters didn’t work if the customer switched their supplier, so they all had to be replaced. There was also the COVID-19 pandemic that all but cancelled the rollout for more than a year. These and many other factors have led to the deadline to complete the rollout being extended several times, with the predicted budget rising dramatically too. Currently, the aim is to complete the rollout by the end of 2025.

However, despite these setbacks, there are now reasons to be optimistic that the rollout is back on track, and that everyone in the UK will soon be able to benefit from the advantages that smart meters bring. These include more accurate billing, real-time energy monitoring and no more meter readings.

In this article, we’ll look at one particular piece of good news regarding the rollout. We’ll also assess the current situation and look to the future.

Good news

At 11.57am on May 4th 2022, the 20 millionth smart meter was connected to the DCC’s national smart meter network. This milestone took place in the Brighton area, and Utilita Energy carried out the installation.

The Data Communications Company (DCC) and the entire smart meter industry regard this as a landmark figure. It represents that the rollout is back on track after the pandemic slowed everything down. It’s a celebration of how hard the industry has worked to up the pace of installations, with installers, technicians and customers deserving much of the credit.

Studies show that with 20 million smart meters functioning in the country, we will prevent around 580,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions every year. This is around the same amount of CO2 emitted annually by the entire city of Manchester, which is also where the DCC has its headquarters.

Diving deeper

The headline is the landmark 20 millionth smart meter installation, but all the data signifies that the smart meter rollout is now succeeding.

Location data shows that customers in the Midlands have been the fastest to get their smart meters installed. The entire top five of areas for installations are in the Midlands. These are:

  • North Kesteven, Lincolnshire – 61%
  • North West Leicestershire – 59%
  • Harborough, Leicestershire – 59%
  • South Derbyshire – 58%
  • Rugby, Warwickshire – 57%

There has been a massive ramp-up in installations since COVID, with installers adding millions of smart meters to the network every month (including reconnecting first-generation smart meters). As a result, the number of meters on the DCC network has doubled in just 14 months. Just four years ago, there were only a few hundred meters connected to the network. Today, 897 million messages are exchanged between smart meters and suppliers in a month. As more meters are installed and connected, that number will rise even further.

Looking to the future

While it’s great news that the rollout is going so well, the industry cannot afford to be complacent about the future. We may have got to 20 million installations, but to get to 100%, we need to get to around 56 million – and do it by 2025. It’s a huge task. There is a lot still to do.

While the pandemic may (hopefully) be history, there are still problems that can affect the rollout. For example, when the Evergreen container ship got stuck in the Suez Canal last year, the backup of ships delayed the arrival of new smart meters to the UK. It just goes to show that anything can happen.

We also have to consider the current energy price crisis. It’s possible that customers will be too concerned with how they are going to pay for their energy to focus on getting a smart meter. However, if the industry can show consumers that smart meters can actually lead to lower bills, as they encourage you to save energy, perhaps it will lead to more installations rather than less.

Security remains a massive focus for the smart meter industry, with the DCC and other stakeholders investing in infrastructure to make sure smart meters work, everyone keeps their power, and no personal data is lost.

The point of no return

The 20 millionth smart meter installation is a significant milestone on the smart never rollout journey. It’s a sign that smart meters are the present as well as the future. There is more to do, but the future is bright.

So, if you haven’t got your smart meter yet, what are you waiting for? It’s time to join the revolution.

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