Advancing the energy transition with smart metering

In the age of digitisation, managing data is becoming more crucial than ever. Information must be accessed reliably and in a timely manner through means of flexible systems to support an ever-changing society. At the same time, digitisation provides tremendous opportunities. One of them is the development of smart meters. They provide a great tool for the energy sector to become more efficient and provide better services.

Developing smarter energy meters

Smart meters are electronic devices that record the consumption of energy in real-time and facilitate two-way communication between energy consumers and grid operators. Being the next generation of energy meters, these devices offer users more clarity regarding their energy consumption and eliminate the need to take manual readings and rely on estimated energy bills.

For energy users to have a more profound role in the energy transition, they must reduce their carbon footprints on an individual level. Smart meters will enable users to gain a better understanding of their consumption behaviour and detect energy spikes, subsequently helping them base their decisions on how to manage their consumption more sensibly.

Smart metering gives consumers the ability to determine not only the amount of energy being consumed, but also when that energy is being consumed through real-time monitoring. Users may utilize the energy data by applying necessary adjustments to reduce their associated energy bills, such as shifting their peak load times, moderating the use of heavy-load appliances such as air conditioners, and switching off appliances which are not being used.

Implementing smart meters on a large scale will translate to several benefits for grid operators. Reliable grid monitoring techniques are needed by grid operators to ensure they are offering exceptional services to their customers. According to a report by IRENA on the prospects of smart grids, integrating smart meters with existing electrical grids will enhance the communication between energy consumers and operators, enabling accurate billing for the former and better revenue streams for the latter. In addition, faults in the grid can be detected in advance due to the real-time data provided by smart meters, leading to quicker response times and improved grid performance.

Powering a global transition

The ongoing global energy transition requires the optimisation of energy consumption and enhanced efficiency. The growing demand for readily available and reliable information as well as the need to upgrade aging electrical grid networks are drivers for the expansion of the smart meters market.

Current energy systems are becoming more sophisticated with the inclusion of renewable energy sources and electric vehicles. Thus, the digitisation of electric grids is becoming a necessary step in the accommodation of these changes. According to the World Energy Investment report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), smart meters will support the essential demand side response functionalities of the grid, which are the measures taken by grid operators and consumers to balance the supply and demand sides of the grid to ensure it is operating more safely and efficiently.

Over the past few decades, multiple countries have expanded the use of smart meters and included policies to further boost their reach. Various market studies conducted throughout the years suggest an increasing global trend for the penetration of smart meters among most nations. According to market research firm Guidehouse Insights, the global penetration of smart meters was estimated to be 41.2% in 2019 and is expected to rise to 59.0% by 2028.

The German experience in establishing smart grids

Germany aims to completely supply all of its electricity by renewable energy by 2035, in-line with its ambitious Energiewende which sets to phase out traditional sources of energy and transition the country to a low carbon economy. However, the ensuing restructuring of the energy system requires more efforts to ensure stable operations of the electricity grid, which is one of the most reliable ones in the world. The intermittent production of electricity from renewable sources can lead to frequency imbalances, capacity constraints, and reduced power quality. These issues can be solved by using digital applications. With its Act on the Digitisation of the Energy Transition, Germany aims to facilitate the development of its smart grid infrastructure by starting with the gradual rollout of smart meters for its electricity consumers. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK) emphasizes that smart meters will provide a secure platform of communication which will help revamp the electricity supply system. Additionally, it states that smart meters will assist with the implementation of variable tariffs, a key feature of smart grids, in which users are given incentives to use electricity when it is cheapest to produce, putting an end to the reliance on expensive backup generator plants during times of peak load.

The widespread use of smart meters will support the characteristic two-way communication of smart grids through easily obtained and secure data, enabling the grid to react to production changes with greater flexibility.

The Jordanian initiative for smart meters

The benefits of an inclusive transition to smart metering will be more apparent in Jordan, which has been experiencing high electricity prices caused by energy supply disruptions from neighbouring countries. In order for Jordan to achieve its ambitious renewable energy targets by the year 2030, it must invest in developing its electrical grid infrastructure.

The Green Growth National Action Plan envisions a smart grid network capable of adapting to the anticipated expansion and diversification of energy sources in the kingdom. It also states that work must be done to establish an adequate regulatory framework for smart meters in Jordan. Additionally, technical and feasibility studies should be conducted to properly envision a roadmap for implementing smart meters on a larger scale.

According to a recent report published by EDAMA on the prospects and challenges of smart meters in Jordan, multiple opportunities are presented for improving grid management in the country, influencing the energy consumption behavior of users, stabilizing the cost of electricity and developing adequate energy storage solutions. The report states that dynamic tariffs would be of greater value than fixed tariffs in alleviating the kingdom’s high cost of electricity and emphasized the involvement of all relevant energy stakeholders when devising suitable policies in the future.

What we are doing in this sector: 

  • Preparing a comprehensive policy paper on smart metering in Jordan
  • Providing a grid development strategy for the Jordanian electricity system
  • Connect Jordanian and European private sector associations to share experiences and develop best practices on digitisation and innovation in the energy sector

Further reads: 

BMWK - An electricity grid for the energy transition (