Smart meters, as you may know, are electricity meters that can record a household’s electricity use in near-real time and report that information back to the utility remotely. Standard, “dumb” meters only record cumulative energy use and have to be checked by a meter reader who comes to your house, usually once a month.
They’re important because they let utilities more closely match the demand for electricity to the supply at a given time, increasing efficiency and stability. They can also give homeowners more detailed information about how much energy they’re using and how much they’re paying for it. And we all want to save energy and money and avoid blackouts, right?
Several utilities are already begun installing smart meters in communities across the United States, sometimes with mixed reactions from customers. But European countries are surging ahead with plans to install the gadgets. According to a new study from GTM Research, Europe is getting an additional 100 million smart meters between now and 2016.
Spain, France, the U.K., and Germany account for the bulk of that growth. And, as this handy chart shows, the countries that are making the biggest strides tend to be those in which the shift to smart meters is supported by regulation.
By the end of 2016, GTM Research predicts, Europe will have a slightly higher smart meter penetration (52%) than the United States (50%). Combine this smart meter rollout with the proposed plan to create a supergrid to connect Saharan solar energy to Europe and one can start to see what a high-tech energy generation and transmission system might look like.