Low market penetration and insufficient investments are the main reasons why the EU has not progressed with its ambitious target of 80 percent market coverage for smart meters by 2020, reports EurActive.com.
It says many member states have yet to be convinced about the value of smart meters. About 15 percent to 18 percent of households across the EU have smart meters but market penetration is much lower in new member states in Central Europe, according to EurActiv.
Energy officials at the European Commission say that the EU has spent $7.74 billion on 300 smart meter projects across Europe so far, but say it needs to significantly ramp up investments and spend $64 billion on 250 million smart meters by 2020, and an additional $619 billion on upgrading the grid by 2030.
EU member states were required to submit a cost-benefit analysis for smart meter roll-outs by September of last year, but several member states including Germany have yet to do so. Among those that submitted the analysis, two-thirds had a positive analysis for electricity while only one-third were positive for the gas industry.
Per the terms of the Third Energy Package, legislation that has promoted the EU’s gas and electricity market since 2009, member states are not required to roll out smart meters across the board, but only in markets where it makes sense.
Politicians say utilities are part of the problem and many have been lobbying against energy efficiency requirements, since they feel it could restrict their revenue streams, but give kudos to utilities in Denmark that have adapted, since they recognize the opportunities in efficient technologies.
But in their rebuttal, utilities told EurActive that governments should encourage demand rather than enforce energy efficiency through regulatory restrictions.
The European Commission will publish a benchmark report on the costs and advantages of rolling out smart meters across the EU soon.
In the US, smart meter penetration lingers at 23 percent nationally, despite $4 billion in stimulus money, mainly because only a few states have carried out extensive roll-outs, Greentech Media says. States like California, Nevada and Texas have more than 75 percent smart meter penetration, and 20 states in all have more than 25 percent penetration, but the rest lag behind.
This is why smart meter vendors have been hoping sales will pick up in the EU and in the UK in particular, to make up for the slack in the US, but the UK has decided to delay smart meter installations, reports SmartGridNews.com.
But the UK’s move is a good decision, a British smart meter provider told the news site, since this will allow for better consumer engagement, given that consumer uptake is key to the success of the roll-out. It’s important to drive awareness and education, since over-inflated expectations can be dangerous, given that smart meters on their own won’t bring about cost or energy savings, David Stroud with EDMI Europe says.
Negative perceptions about smart meters in the US have led to mismanaged energy, but smart meters can actually help reduce power outages that cost the US $150 billion annually, says a Forbes guest columnist.