Europe in danger of missing 2020 smart-metering targets: Berg Insight

Europe is at serious risk of failing to meet its smart-metering targets for 2020, according to a new paper from Berg Insight.

Authorities in the region are aiming to cover 80% of electricity customers with smart meters by 2020, but those plans have taken several hits over the last few months.

For a start, Germany’s government has decided not to mandate the rollout of smart meters, while deployments have been delayed in a number of countries, including France.

Europe is at serious risk of failing to meet its smart-metering targets for 2020, according to a new paper from Berg Insight.

Authorities in the region are aiming to cover 80% of electricity customers with smart meters by 2020, but those plans have taken several hits over the last few months.

For a start, Germany’s government has decided not to mandate the rollout of smart meters, while deployments have been delayed in a number of countries, including France.

According to Berg Insight, all this means the penetration rate is likely to be in the 60–70% range by the end of the decade.

Although that would be lower than expected when the European Union first announced energy-efficiency goals, the rate of adoption remains impressive, according to the market-research company.

Berg Insight’s forecasts indicate that the installed base of smart-electricity meters will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 18.5% over the next six years, rising from 61.5 million units at the end of this year to 170.1 million units in 2019.

“Until 2019, more than 100 million European households are set to receive intelligent metering devices, capable of communicating with smart grids,” said Tobias Ryberg, a senior analyst with Berg Insight.

The company has based its projections on the current official timeframe for smart meter rollouts in EU member states, but it notes there is a significant risk that some of the projects are further delayed.

As it points out, the process of defining functional and technical requirements for the new solution in a manner satisfactory to all the various stakeholders has many potential pitfalls.

For one thing, consumers in some areas have seen smart meters as a threat to privacy and an additional cost burden.

According to Berg Insight, governments need to step in and establish platforms for smart metering – as well as other smart grid applications – that are trusted, neutral and jointly financed by the stakeholders for whom they create benefits.

“Smarter grids require smarter regulations that create a better balance between the public good and the interest of the various players in the post-unbundling energy value-chain,” said Ryberg.