The national roll-out of smart meters in the UK is being seen as a significant development in critical national infrastructure, enabling greater efficiency in the energy industry and more accurate bills.
I've just received a note from Andy Slater, a director of utility infrastructure specialist Sensus, who argues:
"As the UK makes its transition to a low carbon economy, smart meters have a vital role to play in enabling it to hit targets for carbon reduction. Smart meters are also critical to help balance the demand for electricity with the use of renewable energy and enable consumers to save energy and lower their bills.
The smart meter roll-out will be driven by three key factors; the Carbon Reduction targets set out in European legislation for the UK, utilities working in more efficient ways to read our meters, and consumers making more informed choices on how to use and save energy.
There is no doubt that smart meters can help the UK reduce its carbon footprint, making businesses and individuals more energy efficient, however, these potential benefits could be eroded by the government unwittingly choosing a network solution that is not robust enough to support the roll-out effectively.
A key requirement of whichever communication network the Government selects for the UK roll-out, should be to economically connect the vast majority of meters, with high first-time meter connectivity targets set. The Government should make the Data Communications Company (DCC) responsible for end-to-end connectivity to actual meters, not just homes, so metering data is reliably transported from the meter to the utility providing the service.
This is not currently the thinking in Ofgem which is leading the working groups looking at the new smart meter network. If a network type is selected which is unreliable and does not connect to a very high percentage of meters, any environmental benefits of smart meters could be lost."
There's more on Smart Metering, this time from the US, courtesy of the Harvard Business Review blogs. It's a nice piece by Dr Peter Fox-Penner called 'The Smart Meter Backslide'.