Worldwide Smart Meter Use
It’s not just the UK that is reaping the benefits of smart meters. It’s happening all over the world. Let’s find out more.
It’s been a rocky ride, with technical issues, financing problems and a global pandemic to overcome, but the UK smart meter rollout is finally progressing towards its target. The target, which has been extended on several occasions, is ambitious. The goal is to get a smart meter in every home and business by 2025. The last government update in June 2022 recorded 29.5 million smart meters installed in the UK; that’s 52% of all meters.
That’s what’s happening here in the UK, but what about the rest of the world? Many countries across the globe are embarking on their own smart meter journeys. In this article, we’ll look at some of them and assess their progress. We’ll also look at why the demand for smart meters is surging, wherever you are in the world. Let’s go.
Europe is leading the world in getting smart meters to its citizens. The EU set an ambitious (albeit non-legally binding) target of getting 80% coverage for smart electricity meters by 2020. Many countries have managed to hit that target, with some surpassing it.
Italy, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Estonia have almost 100% coverage, while Denmark is close behind with robust plans to achieve full coverage soon. However, the first country to reach its target was Spain, which implemented one of the most efficient rollout plans on the continent.
On the other hand, not all European countries have performed as well. Germany and France, the two most prominent European countries, are behind on their targets. In addition, some countries, including the Czech Republic, Greece, Croatia and Cyprus, decided not to run a smart meter rollout at all.
With massive population centres like China and India, Asia and the Pacific region is the world’s largest market for smart meters.
China is investing hugely in sustainable energy management, including smart grids. Customers will receive smart meters as part of a scheme to connect 470 million new people to gas via a 40,000km pipeline. In Japan, leading utility providers have partnered together in order to develop a common smart meter platform.
India is more of a developing economy than China and Japan, but it is still investing in smart meter technology. Its leading utility providers are developing smart meter systems, including IGL, India’s market leader in natural gas distribution. In addition, the state-owned EESL is running the government’s electricity smart meter rollout programme and has installed millions of meters so far.
South America currently lags behind the rest of the world in terms of smart meter take-up. However, Brazil is taking steps to give its citizens the benefits of smart meter ownership. It announced details for a smart meter rollout as far back as 2012. The target is to get 27 million smart meters installed by 2030. Any urban or rural homeowner can ask for a smart meter. As long as it is technically possible, they can get one.
With the US being a world leader in technological innovation, you’d imagine they would be at the forefront of the smart meter revolution. However, it is progressing slower than in many other countries. The latest figures show that 111 million smart meters are installed across the United States, roughly 70% of total residential properties.
Why smart meters?
We can see that while we talk a lot about the smart meter rollout in the UK, our programme isn’t running as well compared to many other countries in the world. There is still a lot of work to do.
There is clearly a high demand for smart meters due to the benefits they provide:
- Smart meters help customers save money, which is essential at a time when many countries are experiencing high levels of inflation
- National grid authorities can use smart meter data to run their operations more efficiently
- Smart meters nudge users towards saving energy, which can help the world win the battle against climate change
- National rollout programmes allow private companies to compete with each other to get more of their meters installed (and make larger profits)
- Some countries have found that smart meters reduce instances of fraud, such as citizens stealing power
On the other hand, there are reasons why smart meter rollouts are complex and why countries such as the UK, France and Germany can’t get smart meters into homes as quickly as others can:
- Rollouts run by governments often move slowly, especially when countries have more pressing matters to deal with. This is especially true in the developing world.
- It’s more than just fitting or replacing devices in people’s homes. Countries also need a new ‘smart grid’ in order for meters to function properly.
- COVID is still limiting the progress of the rollout in some countries, including China.
A global growth industry
The global smart meter industry had a value of USD 10 billion in 2019 and is predicted to grow by 7.8% every year. By the end of the decade, most households and businesses in the developed world will have a smart meter, measuring their consumption and nudging towards energy savings. Hopefully, at this point, the world will see the benefits that smart meters can bring.