Smart meters: Game-changer for the energy industry

Smart meters: Game-changer for the energy industry

/ Technology & Smart Cities / Monday, 30 March 2020 12:28

Technological development brings with it new tools and there are an unprecedented amount of plans for advanced metering infrastructure which are being developed every single day. Smart meters are the energy industry’s most efficient and beneficial inventions. Not only do they provide richer data for utility providers and consumers to use to their own advantage, but they also give consumers greater autonomy and responsibility due to their special features.

Smart meters record the usage of electricity every 30 minutes and then send the collected information to the consumer’s respective electricity retailer for billing. The difference between these digital meters and traditional ones is that they diminish the need for a person to physically visit one’s property to carry out a meter reading.

Smart meters will provide you with in-home display units, allowing you to track your electricity usage yourself.

On their website, EDF Energy justified the use of smart meters by stating that, “Smart meters give you a better understanding of how you use your energy. They come with an in-home display monitor which lets you keep an eye on your energy as you’re using it. This means if you’re making changes to cut your electricity and/or gas use, you can see in near-real time if these changes are making a difference.”

It has been widely speculated that these smart meters will not just be beneficial for the energy provider, but the consumer as well.

For companies, smart meters are a great tool as they are an important source of richer data which would in turn enable more efficient pricing strategies and allow for a smoother electricity supply chain.

“Before smart meters, there was only one data point per consumer per month,” explained Ozge Islegen, assistant professor of managerial economics and decision sciences at the Kellogg School.

Indeed, smart meters have ensured greater efficiency in that the utility provider would be able to monitor energy usage per hour (or even less) and in real-time.

The rich data which is generated through them provides companies with insight greater than ever before, allowing them to better understand each household’s usage. Being able to set out better pricing strategies will enable the entire supply chain to be handled much more efficiently.

Time-based pricing is truly a game-changer. In fact, according to recent research from the Kellogg School of Management and the University of Chicago Booth School has shown that time-based pricing makes consumers more aware of their usage which inherently causes peak use to decrease.

This allows customers to better understand their usage hence helping them figure out how to cut it down and reduce their expenses. Some apps even provide billing predictions so that consumers can account for their potential payments beforehand.

Another advantage in this case for electric companies would be the fact that it ensures profit optimization with available and existing resources as well as avoids the need to invest in building new power plants.

A particularly useful feature of smart meters would be fault detection. This would make it relatively easier for electricity companies to pinpoint areas which are not receiving an electricity feed. It can help them identify the problem and also respond to these issues much quicker.

Installing smart meters indeed makes everything a great deal easier. They come with more rate options for electricity plans and they are very useful for relocation. If you decide to move to a new house, having a smart meter would mean that you can set it up yourself without the need to bring in a person to read the meter.

With new technology, comes new challenges however, it is important to note that these disadvantages will seldom affect businesses and customers in the long run. Due to their ability to store large quantities of data, customers might find it difficult to manage these new energy systems on their own and have been found to be less likely to pay close attention to the potential for energy-saving that lies in the use of smart meters. They may also be unaware of how their personal data is being utilized. Also, consumers may be reluctant to install smart meters due to the installation costs that come with it.

While these are merely short-term challenges, if they persist it would cause a slow-down in the adoption rate for these technologies. This could be especially prevalent in off-grid or rural areas.

Utility providers must ensure that cybersecurity and technical leadership are at the very core of their services in this case. Indeed, protecting the consumer is just as essential to the technology as the data which is used by these companies.

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