We are Cambridge Energy Data Lab, a smart energy startup based in Cambridge, UK.
This blog, named "Cambridge Energy Data Analysis", aims to incrementally unveil our big data analysis and technologies to the world. We are a group of young geeks: computer scientists, data scientists, and serial entrepreneurs, having a passion for smart energy and sustainable world.

Wednesday 18 February 2015

The smart meter rollout: current status

We could write a very long blog post answering questions like "What are smart meters?", "Why do we need smart meters?", "Who is installing smart meters?", or even "Can smart meters read my mind?"... But instead, we'll stick to the data available out there, plot it, and try to analyse it! If you are interested in knowing more about smart meters and how you can benefit from them, we advise you to read the nice and simple article about smart meters on, or our own blog post.

A smart meter looks like this:

Figure 1: A smart meter!

The smart meter rollout timeline

In 2007, the UK government started to investigate the possibility of a smart-meters rollout. In 2009, it was agreed to proceed with the rollout with a target of replacing every single traditional meter with its smart version by 2020. An intermediate target is to have 20 million meters fitted between 2016 and 2018. The peak of smart meter installation should happen in 2019... a year before the target. Let's check where we are now.

Current status of the rollout

Thanks to the great data portal of the UK government, we can access some numbers about the smart meter rollout. The number of domestic meters by type and quarter is represented in figure 2.

Figure 2: Number of domestic gas and electricity meters by meter type and quarter. Click on "Traditional Meters" to realise how far we are from the 2020 target. No reason to panic though... 5 years to go.

First of all, some jargon clarification. "Smart Meters" is the official term to design licensed meters as defined by the regulatory organism OFGEM. "Smart-Type meters" corresponds to meters installed by utility companies which have some similarities with smart meters (they can store real-time consumption data, be accessed remotely...) but don't fully comply with the current regulation. Therefore, they will have to be replaced by official smart meters by the end of 2020.  We now understand that smart meter is a very precise term and being able to display electricity consumption does not necessarily qualify your device to fit in the "smart meters" category.

By the end of 2014, 500 thousand smart meters had been installed which corresponds to a tiny percent of the totality of gas and electricity meters. The beginning of the massive rollout should however happen in 2015 which should be an exciting year for the smart meter rollout and therefore for electricity data-analysis.