While some countries in Europe continue to prevaricate on smart metering, the Netherlands is moving ahead with a large-scale rollout that should see the country closing towards and potentially exceeding the EU requirement of 80% coverage by the end of 2020.
Approximately 1.5 million Dutch households have smart meters so far. [Read updated article - Dutch smart meter experience - lessons from a mass rollout].
New contracts for 6 million smart electricity and gas meters by 2020 from operators together managing 70% of the approximately 8 million connections in the market will largely close the gap.
However, on a wider scale the EU target won’t be met. When the target was set back in 2009, 2020 seemed a long way off but six years later it is now fast approaching with every delay counting towards its achievability.
In a July 2014 analysis the Joint Research Centre (JRC) estimated 72% coverage for smart electricity meters and 40% for smart gas meters by 2020 based on then current national rollout plans. A year on and for example with delays in the UK and a possible slowdown in France, both major markets, the potential 2020 coverage is now likely to be lower. (Note, the smart gas meter target is less stringent and only a handful of countries have opted for large-scale rollouts.)
6 million smart electricity and gas meters
The four Dutch grid operators, Alliander, Stedin, DELTA Netwerkbedrijf and Westland Infra, have inked contracts with Landis+Gyr and a collaboration of Danish gas meter manufacturer Flonidan and Iskraemeco from Slovenia. Landis+Gyr will supply 3 million smart electricity and gas meters to the four operators. Iskraemeco will deliver a minimum of 1.6 million smart electricity meters and Flonidan will install more than one million smart gas meters.
The contracts, worth a total of approximately €470 million, are also potentially extendible to increase the numbers of meters supplied. First deliveries are expected in early 2016.
Smart metering isn’t mandatory in the Netherlands, but the vast majority accept it. For example, in the first three months of the year the refusal rate was just 3%, according to the association of Dutch network operators, Netbeheer Nederland.
All three companies have been involved in supplying smart meters in the Netherlands since the start of the pilot projects in 2006-07. Through the joint procurement the Dutch operators have looked to economies of scale to achieve significant savings on the cost per meter, according to a statement from Stedin.
Smart metering in Netherlands
With the smart metering, customers are provided with an overview of their usage every two months and an annual bill. Switching is also simplified, the Stedin statement states.
Communication will be via Alliander and Stedin's CDMA network for the majority of smart meters and GPRS for the remainder. [Engerati-Alliander and Stedin: Our Dedicated Private Wireless Telecom Network and Smart Grid Becoming a Reality]
The smart meters also comply with the Fair Meter Initiative, which requires a sustainable approach from early production through to end-of-life recycling.
Smart meter cost benefits in Netherlands
The cost benefit analysis for smart electricity and gas metering in the Netherlands provided positive benefits of €770 million, or approximately €50 per metering point and energy savings between 3% and 6%. This is close to the average for European countries with a positive cost benefit outcome.