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Smart meter installs surge 8.2% in Q4 2019 but fall year-on-year

Image: Getty.

Image: Getty.

The speed of the smart meter rollout continues to fluctuate as installs in Q4 2019 surge compared to the previous quarter but fall year-on-year.

According to figures released this week by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), by the end of 2019, 16.5 million smart and advanced meters were installed, split across domestic (1.2 million) and non-domestic properties (32,000).

Installations by large energy suppliers saw an increase of 4.5% in Q4 2019 in comparison to Q4 2018, with 1.2 million meters installed during this period last year.

This also represents an 8.2% increase in installations compared to Q3 2019 and was driven by an increase in both electricity and gas installations, rising by 9.1% and 7% respectively.

It also marks the twelfth consecutive quarter with over a million smart meters installed, BEIS said.

However, whilst installations of domestic installations in 2019 reached 4.4 million, this was a decrease from the 4.9 million installed in 2018 despite warnings installations will need to significantly increase.

The rate of installation of smart meters between 2012 and 2019. Image: BEIS.
The rate of installation of smart meters between 2012 and 2019. Image: BEIS.

Of this, 67% in 2019 were SMETS2 compared to 4.5% in 2018. Whilst this means 33% of meters installed last year were the older SMETS1 meters, these are being enrolled to the Data Communications Company’s (DCC) communications network to enable them to be interoperable between energy suppliers, a key criticism of SMETS1 previously.

Unsurprisingly, the majority of installations in 2019 – 97%, in fact – were carried out by large suppliers. This is consistent with 2018, where 96% were installed by large suppliers.

However, the deadline for the rollout has had to be pushed back from 2020 to 85% by 2024, a decision announced in 2019.

This may yet still prove to be unfeasible, with research from Frontier Economics on behalf of Energy UK finding that installation levels “will fall far short” of the government’s goal.

Only 54-68% of relevant premises are likely to have a smart meter in that timeframe unless changes are introduced to require consumers to accept installations, the research found.

The DCC lauded the four millionth installation of SMETS2 in February, with the three millionth installation only occurring last December.

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