UK reaches 13 million SMETS smart meter milestone on DCC network

The Data Communications Company (DCC) has announced that the UK has now connected 13 million SMETS smart meters to its network as part of the country’s digital transformation and energy transition journey.

The milestone was reached when an electric smart meter was installed for a consumer of Octopus Energy in Morecombe in Lancashire on 21 July, 2021. The milestone increased the number of SMETS 1 smart meters to 4,544,271 and of SMETS 2 smart meters to 8,479,949.

The project is part of the UK government’s efforts to ensure that some 50 million smart meters are installed to help consumers make more informed energy usage decisions that would enable them to reduce their energy bills.

In addition, SMETS smart meters allow customers to switch energy retailers in search of better deals in line with the government’s efforts to encourage competition, innovation and better customer services within the country’s energy market.

For grid operators, the smart meters will provide them with real-time data which they can use to optimise the management of distributed energy assets and their maintenance.

Access to the data is expected to help utilities match energy demand with generation in near real-time, a development that would assist energy companies to address the fluctuating nature of renewables and expand their clean energy portfolios to meet the net-zero goal.

DCC CEO Angus Flett said: “The last million meters have been added in less than two months. Since then, the Government’s made several welcome announcements about the future of energy in Britain, and the DCC network is ready to play its part in that digitised future, by supporting smart electric vehicles (EV) charging and other policy measures to help the nation achieve net-zero.”

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Smart meters and the UK energy transition

In an interview with Smart Energy International on the role of smart meters in the UK’s transition to net-zero, Chris Barlow, director of innovation, DCC, said: “The energy needs of society are growing in complexity and demand, and are subject to frequent change. What we need now is a smarter approach to energy grid management, which optimises operations using data. The digitisation of the power grid will play a hugely important role in enhancing our energy distribution and will grant tremendous benefits to everyone in society.

“An ecosystem for energy innovation needs to be a central component of the plan to meet Britain’s decarbonisation agenda. Just consider that a recent survey of businesses, which found that more than three quarters (79%) indicated that energy usage is the major contributor to carbon emissions in their organisations, you get an idea of the scale of the issue.

“In Britain, the shift to greener energy initiatives must be underpinned by the existing smart meter infrastructure, so that our energy can be reliably distributed to everyone at all times.

“Across Europe, connected devices and smart networks are already showing their benefits. Barcelona, for example, has a proud history of incorporating smart sensors and big data analytics into everything from parking and transportation, to refuse collection and improving air quality. Copenhagen is a similarly forward-looking city, where IoT-based traffic monitoring projects leverage traffic data to enhance routes in real-time.

“None of this would be possible without a network of connected devices, constantly in contact with one another, harnessing big data to optimise energy usage at every turn. Further expansion of these data-intensive smart city projects requires a smart energy grid that is able to respond to fluctuating user demand.”

AMI infrastructure and EV charging

With the lack of infrastructure hindering an accelerated adoption of electric vehicles, leveraging existing smart meters and smart grid infrastructure would help address market barriers. The DCC, in partnership with a consortium of technology companies (Toshiba, Pelion, Vestel and firm has.to.be.), is connecting EV charging infrastructure on its smart meter IoT network to enable secure and climate-friendly smart EV charging. The pilot would enable the control of consumer EV charging in real-time for grid reliability.

Flett, added: “To meet our national net-zero targets, we need to break down the barriers stopping people transitioning to electric vehicles.”