Installation of smart light meters accelerates in Europe with Portugal among the fastest growing countries – Computers
More than half of electricity customers in Europe are already connected to the grid that offers it through smart meters. Portugal is among the five countries in the European Union where a transition to smart meters most started last year and where it will grow the most in the next five.
In December 2020, there were in the 27 EU countries and three more regions also counted in the Berg study, 150 million smart meters, representing 49% of the market and reflecting an average annual growth rate of 7.2%. The consultant’s calculations indicate that by 2026, the EU will be able to have more than 227 million of these meters installed, which represents a technology penetration of over 70%.
France was the country that led this growth in 2020, followed by Italy. The top 5 closes with the United Kingdom, Holland and Portugal. In the results for the next five years, it is estimated that France will continue to lead in the volume of installations (the data considered in the study are more precisely from the device environments for the operators who install them). Austria, Belgium, Poland and Portugal follow.
The penetration of smart gas meters is also growing. At the end of last year, 39 million units of these devices were already installed throughout Europe. By 2026, the estimate is that the number will grow to 70 million.
For the next few years, and not referring to smart electricity meters, the expectation is that the market will slow down, as most countries complete the bulk of this transaction, not that it refers to the first adoption of smart meters. On the other hand, the installation of second generation meters, which in 2026 should already represent a third of the total installations made, gained ground.
The technologies used for meters are also changing and if at the end of 2020 only 25% of installed meters communicated information via a (mobile) wireless network, in 2026 this should happen in 57% of installations.
Portuguese take little advantage of smart meters
Hmm report Published by the Regulatory Authority for Energy Services in August last year, which analyzed this reality among consumers of low voltage normal services (BTN), it concluded that around 52% of installations already had smart meters. The share represents 3.2 million customers, although a much smaller percussion is taking advantage of this.
“At the end of 2020, BTN installations integrated in intelligent networks totaled 16% of the total (1 million customers)”, completed the ERSE and only 38% were able to access some type of remote service, such as meter readings , or possibility to change aspects of the contract from a distance.
As an ERSE also explained in this report, “the installation of a smart meter, being a necessary condition for the provision of more advanced services to customers, is not, however, a sufficient condition”. In addition to this installation, it is necessary to ensure remote communication between the network operator’s central system and the meter, to develop systems for correction, treatment, validation and availability of data from that same operator, an evolution with a way to go.
Among the problems identified was the very technology that the procedures continue to use mostly to ensure these communications, the PLC, which has some limitations. Once this communication is made, some services are immediately available. More advanced services are dependent on the integration of the installation of customers in smart networks.
The forecast of operators, also standard in the document, is that by 2024, almost all customers in normal low voltage will already have access to smart meters.