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Northeast Group, LLC reported last week (Nov.10. 2014), that the 1.8 billion unit global electricity metering market is undergoing a shift from legacy to smart metering technologies and that the higher value of smart meters will boost the global market from $9bn annually to $26.8bn by 2024. They also claim that smart meters will have a 1.1bn installed base by 2024 (Northeast Groups dataset includes detail from 125 individual countries and 48,000 data points and can be accessed at www.northeast-group.com).
With smart metering seemingly taking energy industry by storm (despite great controversy), it’s the perfect opportunity to examine why Smart Meters are set for such a meteoric rise in popularity.
The main factor is that Smart Meters provide the customer with much greater insight and control over their energy use. Operating in real time, Smart Meters give accurate snapshots about energy usage at different times of the day, drilling down to hourly increments. The benefit being it makes consumers much more aware of their consumption and how to reduce it. This in turn creates the opportunity for a utility to offer a greater range of plan options, tailored to the specific needs of the customer. Being able to anticipate peak periods and how to avoid them, savvy customers can proactively reduce their demand during peak periods and their bills will be reduced accordingly. It also means billing accuracy is greatly improved by eradicating the use of estimated bills. With plans on the horizon to enable the customer to communicate wirelessly with their smart meter, usage can be adjusted simultaneously.
This has a direct benefit also for the environment, because reduced demand means the use of older less efficient power plants can be avoided. “Peaker” plants are currently deployed to meet high demand. They typically have higher greenhouse gas and other air emissions. Smart meters will make these an obsolete back up plan.
On the technical side, Smart Meters offer an array of information that can be used to diagnose problems remotely and easily. Technical problems and faults can be remedied swiftly with the minimum inconvenience. Energy theft can be detected and prevented as well, so there is total peace of mind that you are paying only for the energy that you are using.
Not everyone is welcoming the switch. Smart Meters have their critics (largely centered around health and safety concerns), but when all is said and done, Smart Meters are set to have a transformative effect on the energy sphere in terms of savings. Say goodbye to estimated bills and inaccurate meter readings and say hello to a few more dollars in your budget!