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Doubt Cast Over UK’s Ability to Meet Smart Meter Targets

By Katie Anderson on March 20, 2012

Sentec, one of the world’s leading suppliers of smart metering technology, has cast doubts over the UK’s ability to meet smart meter installation targets by 2015.

The British firm, which supplies smart meters throughout Europe and the rest of the world, has provided a ‘heat map’ to show how countries in the EU are progressing with the roll-out of smart meters.

The Electricity Directive requires all European Community countries to deploy smart meters in 80 per cent of homes by 2020. According to Sentec, Britain must do more if she hopes to meet this objective.

Explaining some of the difficulties facing energy and smart meter firms in the UK, Mark England, CEO of Sentec, said: “The deregulated structure of [the] UK market is uniquely challenging for rapid and coordinated action in a large-scale initiative like this and we believe that smart meter deployment in 65 per cent of UK homes by 2015 is not possible”.

Mr England admitted that there remains a “great deal of work still to do to finalise the technical and regulatory framework for smart metering”.

The figure of 65 per cent is based on predictions made by IMS Research, which also believes that smart meter penetration will reach 49 per cent of homes in France and 73 per cent of homes in Spain and Portugal.

Sentec’s heat map suggests some countries are not doing enough to roll out smart meter technology, which is designed to reduce energy users’ reliance on domestic electricity, thereby cutting usage and making bills more affordable. In Britain, smart meters can be used in conjunction with solar photovoltaic panels, which generate electricity for home use. Surplus energy can also be sold to the National Grid.

The heat map indicates that several countries in the north or west of Europe will exceed 70 per cent penetration by 2015, but Poland and Germany will struggle with around 30 per cent. The fate of smart metering in the UK is less clear.

Mark Baillie, of OpenText, anticipates a surge in smart meter implementation over the next few years. Mr Baillie estimates that smart meter readings on the continent will reach 130 billion a year when smart meters are deployed in 80 per cent of homes.