Smart electric meters provide a platform for energy efficiency improvements, new customer services, and network optimization. To achieve those goals across Europe, more than 30 million meters will need to be deployed annually during the peak years of activity, and major upgrade programs will need to be executed simultaneously in Europe’s largest countries, along with many smaller projects across a diverse range of countries and utilities. According to a recent report from Pike Research, a part of Navigant’s Energy Practice, nearly 70 percent of all electric meters in Europe (and 90 percent in Western Europe) will be smart by 2020.

“As European utilities move to mass deployment of smart meters, scrutiny of the benefits of smart meters and their impact on consumers will increase,” says research director Eric Woods. “The economic crisis in Europe has so far not been a brake on smart meter programs, but it is putting additional pressure on utilities and governments to ensure that the benefits of smart meters are realized and made visible to customers.”

Smart meters are not only related to consumer issues, but also to the large-scale energy infrastructure improvements needed to support the European Union’s 20-20-20 targets for reductions in overall energy use and carbon emissions. Smart meters have a role to play in relation to the key aspects of the 20-20-20 strategy, including improving the integration of renewable energy sources into the grid, supporting the wide-scale introduction of electric vehicles, and providing detailed information on the low-voltage network, helping to reduce network losses, improve outage management, and reduce operational costs.