Growing demand for smart meters signals more flexible future power system

A new report by Greenbang, covered by the Financial Times Energy Source blog, reveals that the market for ‘smart’ electricity in Europe is “set to expand rapidly in coming years” as more and more renewable energy comes online, government initiatives kick-in and overall demand for energy grows.

According to the report, up to 145 million new smart meters will be installed by the end of 2020 with Germany, the UK, Poland, France and Spain leading the way in a market that could be worth $25 billion by 2020. The EU has recently set the objective of installing smart meters in 80% of households across Europe by 2020.

Renewable energies like wind power are variable in nature, and smart management techniques help make their integration into the electricity system more cost-effective.

A smart meter device in the home would notify users when electricity demand is high, and when electricity prices are higher, allowing them to switch off devices that do not need continuous electricity such as freezers, or to put the washing machine on at a cheaper time of day.

An increased uptake of smart meters will mark a change in our power system from one that is dominated by large-capacity fossil fuel and nuclear plants to one of flexible electricity markets that allow for the integration of wind energy and other renewables.

As the FT energy source blog puts it, “if the capital needed to realise these projects spurs wider adoption of the smart meter technology, it seems the EU is likely to have a very different energy infrastructure in 2020 to the one it has now.”

By Zoë Casey,