The strong uptake of intelligent metering puts within reach the EU-wide target that 80 percent of the households should have smart meters by 2020. Providing consumers with detailed information about their electricity consumption, the new generation of meters give customers control over energy costs and create financial incentives for energy savings.
The adoption of smart meters started in Italy and has continued in the Nordic countries where Sweden decided to make smart meters mandatory from July 2009, starting a trend for the rest of Europe. "Today, Sweden has become the first country in the world to achieve 100 percent penetration for smart meters", said Tobias Ryberg, Senior Analyst, Berg Insight. "In the next years Italy, Ireland, Norway and Finland will follow and by the end of the next decade many more countries including France, Spain and the UK will also have smart meters."
He adds that some countries are moving slower due to resistance from certain stakeholders. The Netherlands has postponed the rollout of smart meters following a heated debate over the potential risk that remote monitoring of energy consumption would lead to privacy violations and in Germany the government is reluctant to impose what could be perceived as a surveillance technology. "The privacy threat from smart meters is grossly exaggerated", said Ryberg. "They are opposed because they represent a new technology for collecting information in a time when large groups of people are afraid of the consequences of living in an information based society. Indeed the energy industry has a major responsibility in protecting the privacy of its customers, but first and foremost it must work to create a sustainable energy system in which smart meters are an essential component."