The energy supply chain for the delivery of smart meters in the UK seems simple enough in overview, but on closer examination there are a number of specific features and special relationships between parties which may or may have contributed to a slower roll out of smart meters than intended.
Financing for smart meters
Data Communications Company
Often when a consumer switches energy suppliers, their smart meters become dormant and cannot be read remotely by the new supplier. The industry promises that this will be resolved when SMETS2 (Smart Metering Equipment Technical Standard version 2) meters are released and supported by the DCC. However SMETS2 meters have been delayed over the last five years and there are even concerns they may not work as intended. One reason for this is that the communications standard on which they rely, the Great Britain Companion Specification (GBCS), is complicated and apparently has not yet been finalised. This makes it very hard for competing vendors to design products that satisfy the GBCS.
There are now over 11 million SMETS1 smart meters installed, run by competing vendors and energy suppliers using Smart Meter System Operators (SMSOs) appointed by energy supplier and meter vendor partners. These were intended for trial only, but there are now so many that the Government has put on a new requirement to the DCC to support SMETS1 meters. This has become a priority over supporting SMETS2 meters. We do not have a go-live date for SMETS1 support. The DCC is relying on co-operation between the SMSOs, but this is not straightforward because they are competing commercial organisations.
Smart Energy Code
Its administration company published v2 of the GBCS in February 2018. Further amendments to the GBCS, between the Government, the meter vendors (through their trade association BEAMA) and the energy suppliers, are not easy to agree.
Realising the gains
All political parties have supported smart meters, and the target is still for a further 42 million smart meters to be installed by 2020. Yet the DCC is not yet properly operational with SMETS1 meters, more meters are becoming dormant and consumers are subsidising the costs.
Every party in the energy supply chain needs to see more benefits from the roll-out and to see them more quickly.
This is where our smart metering technology can help by delivering substantial quick wins for all parties because the FLAG protocol and CHIRPS software have set a clear, stable and fully operational standard for 30 years.