Smart Metering and Electricity Demand: Technology, Economics and International Experience


In recent years smart metering of electricity demand has attracted attention around the world. A number of countries and regions have started deploying new metering systems; and many others have set targets for deployment or are undertaking trials. Across the board advances in technology and international experience characterize the metering landscape as a fast-changing one. These changes are taking place at a time when increasing emphasis is being placed on the role of the demand-side in improving the efficiency of energy markets, enhancing security of supply and in unlocking the benefits of energy and carbon savings. Innovative forms of metering can be a useful tool in achieving an active demand-side and moving beyond a supply-focused sector. In this paper we focus in particular on smart metering in liberalized electricity markets. We firstly set the context for innovative electricity metering in terms of policy, the role and market structure for metering, and the potential for smart metering to increase demand-side participation. We then provide an overview of new metering technologies by examining international trends, the various components of smart metering systems, and the likely future developments. Next we assess the economics of smart meters focusing on the costs and benefits of smart metering and the distribution of these. We review the evidence in Europe, North America and Australia; we look at how countries and regions have differed in their approaches and how these differences have had an impact on policy making. We conclude by outlining the main challenges that remain, particularly in technology choice and its regulation, the methodology of analyzing costs and benefits and the role of uncertainty in investment and policy making.
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