Challenges in the deployment of smart meters

The Smart Metering rollout obligation requires that suppliers begin the process of transitioning from traditional energy meters to ‘smart’ or ‘advanced’ meters by 2020. In its first phase, the government has set out to engage with energy retailers in order to introduce a regulatory and framework to support smart meter deployment. 
 
This programme requires each retail energy supplier to deliver their own deployment projects. However, issues arise as suppliers aren’t typically set up to deliver one-off large-scale infrastructure projects, and in turn don’t have immediate access to disruptive technologies that could increase the efficiency of deployment. 
 
Financial Modelling
 
Infrastructure programmes typically make use of precise financial modelling – tracking line items of cost, including frequent planned checks against the original investment case. From an energy retail perspective, their accounting systems and cost control processes are only set up for standard financial accounting practices, so suppliers must consider how they adapt accordingly to ensure the required level of cost control. 
 
Disruptive technologies
 
Suppliers’ are considering but not readily adopting disruptive technologies to efficiently deliver the smart metering rollout. For example, the primary way of booking an appointment to install a smart meter is still a letter.
 
The data collected by the smart grid becomes really valuable when analysed to extract insights, which in turn can inform decisions and guide policy. However, the volume of data collected from a smart grid means disruptive technologies will need to be used to extract insights - identify trends, patterns or root causes of issues. There is also the opportunity to use disruptive technologies to tackle the growing number of system generated exceptions, which are symptomatic of the meter exchange process. 
 
 Looking towards the future?
 
Energy suppliers should embrace a ‘smart’, tech savvy approach to planning and tackling deployment challenges and ultimately operating a key component of the smart grid. Innovative technologies are key to delivering a cost efficient and effective smart metering deployment and will be key to extracting the insights from the data generated from a smart grid.