The UK smart meter statistics for the first quarter of 2019 have shown a drop in the rate of installations causing questions to be asked on whether the 2020 deadline will be extended according to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The period from January to March 2019 saw just over a million meters installed by large energy suppliers, made up of 573,700 electricity meters, and 457,900 gas meters. Disappointingly the figures represent a 6.7% decrease from quarter 4 of 2018 and a 17% drop for the first quarter of 2018. At the end of quarter 1 of 2019 more than 14.3 million smart meters were in operation across the UK representing an increase of just 4.2% for the quarter. There are still 34.3 million traditional meters currently in service.

The rollout has been the subject of much criticism, with a recent report by BEIS revealing that just 35% of consumers own smart meters. The most disappointing data relates to the lack of inter-operability of meters. In the domestic market, roughly a quarter of residential smart meters are operating as such, with many meters having reverted to one-way metering due to switching suppliers and the meters not being interoperable. In the non-domestic sector only one third of smart meters are operational as they were designed. The lack of trained engineers is being cited as a major factor in this.

With the roll out moving at such a slow pace it seems impossible to believe that the December 2020 deadline is achievable. With the drive towards smart grids and developments in infrastructure dependent on the ability to measure demand, any delay pushes key developments out further and will inevitably lead to zero carbon targets being negatively affected. In addition to this, consumers, both commercial and domestic, are effectively being deprived of vital information to assist them to reduce usage and costs. With the roll-out programme commencing in 2011, the industry has had nine years to get this right. If the first step on the road to a smart energy system cannot be achieved in nine years, what is the likelihood of the Government and the key players in the UK energy industry delivering on the ambitious pledges for climate reduction and the Clean Growth Strategy?

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