Although the smart meter (SM) technology was developed in the 1970s, the large-scale rollout of these devices (basically, an electronic meter that also monitors and records the energy consumption, while transmitting the data in almost real time to the utility company) took place only in the 2000s, following the cellphone networks’ maturity in most of the developed countries. SMs bring measurable benefits to consumers, utility companies, and the energy system as a whole, as well as indirect environmental benefits through energy efficiency gains and system integration of renewable energy sources.
Smart meters in Europe and Romania
In Romania, the National Energy Regulation Agency (ANRE) has so far approved 36 SM pilot projects in 2015 and 2016 for all eight distribution areas, targeting approximately 270.000 points of delivery out of a total of 7.18 million, which means less than 4% of the population, at a cost of 107.715.463 RON (23.5 million euros). A rough calculation based on this figure indicates about 625 million euros needed for full implementation. This figure does not account for the expected costefficiency gains that come with full deployment: discount rates for SMs’ procurement, decrease of technology costs over time, and competition between installation companies, which will push the costs down.
About a third of EU28+2’s electricity users have a smart meter at present, out of a total of 283 million points of delivery, while the expectations are that the rollout will reach 60% by 2020 – below the aimed target of 80%. 2 The most active European countries in this respect are Italy, France, Spain and the UK. Significant efforts are also made in Austria and the Netherlands, while Ireland, Luxembourg and Norway are planning a major installation process. Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Denmark have already deployed SMs to most users. Outside the EU, Montenegro has already achieved a substantial rollout, while Serbia began an ambitious one in 2015.