Despite some 2.6 million smart meters already being installed in the UK, it is the data infrastructure that is causing delays with the further roll out of smart meters in the UK, according to a recent BBC article. This IT project is necessary to support the volume of data anticipated to come from the smart meter roll out that is being pushed by the government.
From the chart below you can see how many meters have been installed since 2012. Higher volumes of data are already being collected which reinforces the need for this important IT project to be up and running as soon as possible.
(Chart and data available from the UK Department of Energy & Climate Change)
With news that the data infrastructure launch is pushed back until the autumn, what impact will this have?
How much data will smart meters generate?
To do a quick calculation on monthly meter reads from the potential smart meters across the UK, there would be around 53 million reads per month. By contrast, with smart meters that record data every 15 minutes, this could mean 96 reads a day from 53 million meters resulting in thousands of times more data being generated. This is obviously a rough estimation but gives an indication as to what the energy companies would be dealing with. This doesn’t include status messages from the meters which would add to the mass amount of data being generated.
Why is this so important, if smart meters are just about making billing automated and putting an end to manual meter reading? There is a lot more value within meter readings and status messages beyond billing.
The benefits of smart meters are clear for consumers: tracking how much energy you are using, monitoring the effect of changes that you have made to your energy consumption, and receiving accurate bills without having to submit a meter reading.
When applied properly, data helps energy companies to manage supply and demand in a much easier fashion. Energy companies benefit from analysing the data collected from the smart meters to enable new rates and business models, implement demand response programs, manage solar power panels in a better way and improve support for electric vehicles, to mention but a few.
To benefit from the thousands-fold growth in meter data, energy companies need analytics that locate the problems and opportunities hidden inside this massive amount of data. Smart meter analytics must be intelligent enough to do the heavy lifting for users, not just make it easier somehow for users to browse among millions of meters. Increasingly, analytics for this size of data set needs the intelligence and autonomy to make decisions independently.
Once the IT infrastructure is in the place, the UK energy companies can start pursuing the new value within smart meter data, analysing it to make better business decisions. All 53 million UK meters likely won’t be changed out by 2020, but that shouldn’t stop UK energy providers from using the smart meter data they already have, or will have soon.
(Image courtesy of rido / 123RF Stock Photo)