Smart meters in 2022

Smart meters in 2022

What does the new year hold for the smart meter industry in the UK and around the world? Let’s find out more.

At Meter Corp, we always like to keep you updated on the fast-moving smart meter industry. It seems there’s always something going on, from the smart meter rollout to new tariffs and beyond. 

Looking back on 2021, it’s clear that it was a year of massive upheaval for the smart meter sector as it tried to resurrect the rollout after the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated restrictions. But now we’re in 2022 and things are moving again; what does the future hold? 

In this article, we’ll look at the prospects for the year from a variety of angles. Let’s go.

The UK smart meter rollout

After the disaster of 2020, the UK’s smart meter rollout bounced back strongly in 2021. Figures from ElectraLink show that in 2021, 2.417 million smart meters were installed in UK homes and businesses, compared to only 1.997 million in 2020. That’s a rise of 21%. 

The latest Government figures put the total number of meters used in smart mode in the UK at an impressive 26 million. Of course, there is still a long way to go to reach the Government’s goal of having a smart meter in every home by 2025, but the rollout is on the right path.  

The bulk of 2021’s installations came in the summer, while Coronavirus fears slowed the rollout a little towards the end of the year. In 2022, where we should hopefully be free of any COVID restrictions, the industry can work flat out to ensure we get even more smart meters in more homes than ever.

Looking to the future

Projections for the Data Communications Company (DCC) that run the smart meter network in the UK show that 2022 will be the ‘biggest year ever’ for smart meters. The DCC believe that in 2022, the number of smart meters will outnumber the number of traditional legacy meters. This is an important milestone for the industry on the way to critical mass in the UK.

Global outlook

It’s not just the UK that has been adding smart meters to its network at an enormous rate. As we move into 2022 and beyond, the rest of the world are also adding smart meters to their networks at a fast pace.

The market for smart meters across the globe is expected to rise by 7.76% every year until 2025, according to figures from Technavio. Europe will still be the world’s largest market for smart meters until 2024 when it’s expected that the Asia-Pacific region will overtake. Of course, China is the most exciting market for smart meters moving forward.

Like the UK, India has a target to install smart meters in every residential home by 2025. 

The data management market

Once smart meters are installed, they produce a vast amount of data on consumers’ energy usage. Energy companies can use this data to get greater insight into their customers, as well as manage their resources better. It’s an interesting secondary offshoot from the smart meter industry, but it is becoming increasingly important.

As a result, there is a large and growing market for data management services to gather, store and process data from smart meters. Large tech companies have designed software – often powered by AI – to process the data and are tendering for lucrative data management contracts across the world.

Challenges the industry may face

However, 2022 will not be totally plain sailing for the smart meter industry in the UK. The challenges that faced the energy sector still remain, with new ones waiting to emerge.

Firstly, the country is in the midst of a potentially disastrous energy crisis. The price of gas has risen dramatically and customers are looking at much higher bills this year, which could contribute to a wider cost-of-living situation. What’s more, a lot of smaller energy companies have gone out of business during this time, as they cannot make money supplying gas at current prices when their customers are contracted to lower rates. It could be only a matter of time before one of the more significant players in the industry starts to experience the same problems. As the large energy companies are heavily invested in the smart meter rollout, losing one of them could be a disaster. 

Associated with this, customers are reluctant to switch suppliers or tariffs with prices the way they are. So, it will be harder to encourage users to get smart meters in order to take advantage of smart meter-only tariffs.

There may also be a problem ahead with the technology. Some industry observers believe that smart meters that do not have 4G or 5G capability may need to be replaced. If not, they will stop working around 2033, when the Government plans to switch off 2G and 3G networks. This is not the first time that smart meters have faced the obstacle of outdated technology. Early on in the rollout, many smart meters had to be replaced because they stopped working if the user switched suppliers.

Finally, there is always the spectre of COVID-19 hanging over everything we do. Currently, we have every reason to be optimistic that 2022 will be relatively COVID-free and the energy industry can return to something resembling normality. But you never know what is around the corner.

A positive outlook

There may be some challenges along the way. Still, there is every reason to believe that 2022 will be an excellent year for the smart meter industry, with well-run efficient suppliers installing the best technology into the homes of happy customers. 

We can’t wait to see what happens.

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