The smart meter rollout launched by the Government is an ambitious initiative. The current plan tasks energy suppliers in the UK with providing top-of-the-line smart meters to every home and small business in England, Scotland and Wales. That’s roughly 26 million homes and 4 million small businesses that they need to cover, and they need to install 53 million smart meters in total by a 2020 deadline.
What is a Smart Meter?
A smart meter is the newest piece of tech that allows more refined management of one’s gas and electricity use. The device resembles an I-Pad, a thin touch screen to be installed in the home or small business. The screen provides users with easy to understand, real-time data on their energy consumption. This then eliminates the need for estimated bill costs, overly complicated meter readings, and shows exactly how much energy you’re using and the costs that will be incurred with that usage. Any and all readings are automatically sent to the energy supplier, making the costs that much more precise.
Of course, this all sounds brilliant, especially if everyone is to receive one by 2020. Is it too good to be true?
The Cost Problems
The switchover is costing the government £11bn, a gargantuan investment that is surely a sign of truly remarkable things to come. Expectations are big and rightly so; this kind of money just can’t be thrown away and needs to provide a host of benefits for all concerned. However, users are expected to save an annual average of just £11 on their energy bills following the installation of their smart meter, which obviously isn’t exactly life-changing news for users. So far, it’s not at all worth it on a financial level.
A Lack of Confidence
Of course, the smart meter rollout was aiming to hit an unprecedented level of change in energy management. This is high-end tech that the UK could well make good use of, but the demands are likely too big on such a short deadline. Still, in 2017 suppliers were on track with their distribution goals, sending out first generation smart meters to large portions of their customer bases.
However, things have taken a turn since then. Last July MPs branded the initiative as ‘a bit of a mess’, and calls to extend the deadline were expressed, alongside concerns that the savings targets wouldn’t be met. 2019 is around the corner, and progress has started to stall. There are now problems that need solving and further funding that needs to be secured to make additional headway, convoluting the proceedings for everyone.
Furthermore, not everyone embraces change. Firms such as Schneider Electric have long provided power metering and control devices, and those who are not technologically savvy may prefer to stick with what they know and trust. Automation technologies and swiping at screens for minimal perks isn’t for everybody, and many quite understandably don’t trust new gadgets being imposed on their homes.