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More investment needed for smart metering in Europe

More investment needed for smart metering in Europe

Around €6 billion has been invested in smart grid projects in Europe, including 281 smart grid R&D projects and 90 smart metering pilots and rollouts, but more investment is needed particularly in smart metering, with an estimated €50 billion required for 250 million smart meters by 2020.

Further some €480 billion is required to upgrade the rest of the system by 2030.

These figures were presented by Jan Panek from the European Commission’s Energy Directorate at the European Smart Metering Industry Group (ESMIG) and European Distribution System Operators (EDSO) for Smart Grids’ meeting on the status of smart metering in Europe during the EU’s Sustainable Energy Week last month.

Panek also pointed out that the success of the smart metering rollout depends in part on criteria largely decided by the metering systems themselves, including the smart meter functionalities.

It also depends on convincing the consumer, including ensuring personal data protection and empowering them through demand response.

Initial findings from the Meter-ON initiative, which is aimed to support smart metering implementation in Europe by sharing information and recommending best practices, were also presented at the event by Robert Denda from Endesa, who is heading the “Lessons learned and recommendations” work package. From initial analysis of eight smart metering projects in Europe (including five rollouts, two pilots, one demonstration), the main communication technology is powerline carrier (PLC). All projects include a load management mechanism in the smart meter and cyber security mechanisms, but differences are in the maturity of the technology.

Other findings are that the deployment strategy needs to involve all stakeholders from the beginning, and the DSOs need to establish a trustful relation with the consumer, particularly with regard to security and privacy related issues and cost related issues.

Some of the preliminary recommendations from the analysis are that regulators should consider a fair distribution of costs, since the benefits of smart meters are beyond the boundaries of the DSOs, and there should be recognition in investments that smart metering functions will be required for future smart grids.

Data information flows to other agents need to be defined and corresponding standards established for exchange and interoperability at the DSO boundaries, and support also needs to be assured from the authorities on customer involvement.

Meter-ON is currently in its second round of data collection, which will significantly increase the number of smart metering projects for analysis.

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