Energy is entering a digital age. There will be an estimated 11 billion smart devices in over 1 billion homes as part of our global energy ecosystem by 2040. That’s the prediction highlighted in the recent Digitilization and Economy report released by the International Energy Association(IEA).
At the forefront of this intelligent revolution will be the increasing adoption of smart meters, connected devices which help consumers monitor and manage their electricity consumption. Combining smart meters with wider intelligent technology could save buildings alone around 10% of their total energy usage.
The average cost of a smart meter has dropped by roughly a quarter in the last decade, with nearly 600 million of these devices deployed globally today. So let’s explore how smart meters are already delivering results around the world.
No discussion about global smart meter use would be complete without mention of the massive rollout in China. As of 2017 there were an estimated 469 million smart meters deployed in China, accounting for almost 70% of total worldwide deployment.
China’s smart meter adoption is intrinsically linked with its wider smart grid targets. It’s estimated that smart metering and smart grids could reduce China’s need for additional generation capacity by as much as 25%.
Oklahoma Gas and Electric installed 823,000 smart meters across participant customers. In the initial trial, energy use at peak periods dropped by 33%, which paved the way for the successful rollout that followed.
The wider rollout resulted in a 70MW reduction in the company’s load demands. Key to this success was introduction of a ‘smart hours’ programme, which introduced variable pricing periods for electricity consumption. This policy was complemented by the insight provided by smart meters to customers around consumption time and usage.
Italian energy provider Enel became one of the forerunners of smart meter rollout in Europe, with ambitious targets setting the adoption of around 30 million smart meter devices as far back as 2001-2005. It’s estimated that this aggressive rollout generated cost savings to the utility company of around US$750 million per year. What’s more, analysts estimate that consumers may have been able to reduce their bills by as much as a half.
With the original devices now entering the end of their operational life, Italy is embarking on a further ambitious project to roll out an additional 40+ million second generation devices in coming years.
In 2009, Sweden became the first EU country to reach 100% smart meter penetration. It is now mandated in law for consumers to utilise smart meter technology in their homes. Sweden, like many adopters, was strongly motivated by a desire to increase informed consumer insight and decrease overall energy usage.
Since the rollout, demand side operators in Sweden have noted expected financial benefits, but equally importantly there has been a reported increase in service quality and customer satisfaction as well as improved network-wide safety.
Texas-based CenterPoint Energy has rolled out over 2.3 million smart meters to customers across 28 states in the USA. Before implementation the company was required to manually read over 80,000 meters each day. Since the smart meter rollout, CenterPoint Energy is able to perform 221 million meter-reads daily.
As part of their implementation, CenterPoint have also signed up 400,000 customers to an auto-alert outage system which enables the company to identify and respond to electricity outages up to 75% faster than before. This improved network service, alongside greater insight and opportunity for informed energy use, has led to a 10% increase in customer satisfaction, as well as 89% customer approval of the value of savings, 80% approval of the smart grid, and a 70% noted interest in smart energy appliances.