According to "Smart Metering in Europe," a new research report from the M2M/IoT analyst firm Berg Insight, annual shipments of smart electricity meters in Europe will more than double in the next two years. The market accelerated in 2016 and sales are expected to reach 13.5 million units during the year. Annual demand is forecasted to reach an unprecedented level of 27.6 million units in 2018. The peak of annual shipments in the range of 25-30 million units per year will be sustained until the end of the decade.
"The European smart meter market benefits from two concurrent positive developments at the same time," says Tobias Ryberg, senior analyst, Berg Insight and author of the report. "Firstly, the long-anticipated mass rollouts in France and the UK are finally getting underway. Secondly, Enel is on the verge of launching the second wave of smart meter deployments in Italy as the first-generation devices reach the end of their technical lifespan of 12 to 15 years."
During 2015, France and the UK started ramping up the rate of smart meter installations. Berg's report predicts the rate will peak at an aggregate level of 10 to 12 million units per year for the period 2018-2020. The report also identifies Austria, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania and Spain as other hotspots for smart meters in the coming years.
Including deployments in Central Eastern Europe, where adoption rates are mixed, the penetration rate in the EU will be around 60% by 2020, Berg says, a bit short of the original policy target of 80%. The primary reason for the shortfall is Germany, where the outlook for deployment remains negative in the short term. Even as the country recently adopted a new regulatory framework for the introduction of smart meters, large-scale deployments are still some years away. Unlike most other countries in Western Europe, Germany will only make smart meters mandatory for around 10% of electricity customers before 2028. For the remaining 90% -- those households using less than 6,000 kilowatt-hours per year -- Berg believes that a full-scale rollout may not be completed before the 2030s.
Meanwhile, as most other European countries are deploying their first generation of smart meters, early adopters Sweden and Italy are beginning their second waves, replacing systems that were installed in the early 2000s and are now both outdated and at the end of their technical lifespans. Sweden already has its projects underway. In Italy, Enel -- which in July showcased its second-generation smart metering system -- has plans to start massive replacements in 2017, at the same time it begins a major fiber network rollout to households in metropolitan areas.
The Berg report also looks at smart meter communications technologies, where it perceives a gradual shift from programmable logic controllers (PLCs) to wireless technologies and hybrid PLC/radio frequency (RF). New technologies developed for the Internet of Things (IoT) has produced an abundance of wireless networking standards optimized for low cost and even lower power consumption.
— Buffy Naylor, Managing Editor, Informa Exhibitions' Business Technology Network