Worldwide sales of smart meters are set to be 121% higher in 2012 than last year, and annual sales of the intelligent metering devices will reach about 140 million units every year by 2016.
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According to IDC Energy Insight’s Worldwide Quarterly Smart Meter Tracker, there will be about 56 million smart meter shipments in 2012, with Europe contributing to the growth as countries attempt to meet targets set by the European Commission to reduce waste.
“In 2012, smart meter shipments in Europe will accelerate as country-level planning continues to progress and the pathway towards the European Commission's '20-20-20' targets finally begins to materialise,” said the IDC report.
UK smart meter roll-out
In its GB Smart Metering Implementation Programme (GB SMIP), the UK government plans to put 53 million smart meters in homes and businesses in the UK by 2019 as part of a programme to reduce energy consumption. It plans to allow gas and electricity consumption to be monitored to provide information to help consumers and businesses use energy more efficiently.
Rapid delivery of benefits to energy users is essential to maintaining and increasing public support for smart meters
Chris King, eMeter/SEDC
The smart meter project promises to reduce bills, shrink the UK’s carbon footprint and help energy suppliers to provision better and prevent shortages. It involves significant investment in IT and communications networks, as smart meters send information from homes and businesses to a central hub which communicates with utility firms.
But it has put another large IT project on the national conscience. The prospect of keeping GB SMIP’s project costs in estimate is already being doubted by the Public Accounts Committee, which said the project is “both challenging and subject to significant uncertainty”.
The consequences of escalating costs on large government projects are well known. Loss of public confidence eventually reduces political support, which can spell the end of a project, regardless of its promise.
Keeping the taxpayer happy
The UK’s ambitious plans require careful planning and quick benefits for the taxpayer.
“Successful smart meter utilities, states and countries begin with a clearly defined, yet simple, long-term vision. Having the vision also enables effective planning and implementation of the information technology resources needed to make smart meters and related programmes and services work," said Chris King, chief regulatory officer of eMeter and chairman of the smart energy demand coalition (SEDC).
“Rapid delivery of benefits to energy users is essential to maintaining and increasing public support for smart meters. This means having IT systems in place to support the provision of real-time information through smart meter Home Area Network interfaces,” he added.