The introduction of smart meters across Europe will have significant benefits for utilities and energy consumers. With the EU planning to replace at least 80% of electricity meters with smart meters by 20201, utilities will need to ensure they can make the most out of these new technologies. Arguably the most important benefit of smart meters is that they provide utilities with access to real-time data that they can use to understand exactly when, where and how their customers are consuming energy.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Energy providers can use the insights they gain from smart meter analytics to develop more sophisticated demand response strategies and deliver new, innovative services to their customers.
Insights from smart meter data allow utilities to process information from millions of new points across the grid to better visualize how voltage is being distributed throughout their networks, and more importantly why. With this information, utilities will become more efficient and effective at managing energy across the grid as they will be able to predict fluctuations in demand and optimize their response strategies to meet usage patterns.
Utilities can also use smart meter data to deliver more flexible billing services that takes into account customers’ consumption habits and payment preferences, such as peak or real-time pricing. In addition to gaining more control over how they pay for energy, a more granular view of their own consumption will incentivize customers to spread their usage across the day, rather than at peak periods. In the longer term, smart meter data will help energy users across the board become more aware of their consumption behavior so they can become more cost-efficient in their usage.
Finally, it’s worth noting that with the future of Europe’s energy security becoming a growing concern2, utilities need to find ways to better manage energy on their network, rather than simply producing more energy to meet rising energy demands. This can include using grid intelligence to manage available local energy resources to serve the local demand. Gaining a better understanding of their customers and promoting more sustainable consumption is essential to achieving this.
The ongoing roll-out of smart meters across the EU is opening up new opportunities for utilities to change the way they manage energy. To add to this, we are now firmly in the digital age and making the most of smart meter data will be a crucial to the modern utility. And while the roll-out is still at different stages across the region due to the varying maturity of regional markets and questions around customer privacy, smart meters hold the key to better serving an increasingly energy conscious public today and in the coming years.