The Smart Meter Rollout

The smart meter rollout: Social questions and challenges

A new report authored by Dr Benjamin Sovacool, Dr Paula Kivimaa and Dr Kirsten Jenkins looks at the social questions and challenges around the rollout of smart meters in Great Britain and makes recommendations to policymakers on ways to accelerate the uptake of this technology.

Smart meters are replacing traditional meters for monitoring gas and electricity consumption in homes and small businesses in Great Britain. Smart meters measure, store and share energy consumption data on digital networks. It is hoped that smart meters combined with IHDs will transform energy use, leading to demand reductions and a shift in peak demand.

Smart meters have the potential to bring benefits to consumers in terms of reduced energy bills through a more efficient (and hence cheaper to run) energy consumption, stimulated by improved information about energy usage. The Main Rollout Stage of the smart meter programme in Great Britain started in November 2016 and the intention is for every household to have been offered a smart meter by their supplier by the end of 2020.

Much of the debate around the progress of the rollout to date has focused on technical issues. However, there are a number of social issues that have the potential to help or hinder the rollout. To accelerate the diffusion of smart meters, it is important that these aspects receive greater attention: The four key areas are consumer acceptance, changes in energy consumption, vulnerable consumers and other environmental impacts.

A copy of the briefing paper highlighting the above mentioned key areas is available via the website for Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand (CIED).

The full paper ‘Vulnerability and resistance in the United Kingdom’s smart meter transition’ is available on Science Direct.