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Energy regulator pushes for faster smart meter roll-out

October 13, 2021

Energy regulator pushes for faster smart meter roll-out

The Australian Energy Market Commission has its sights set on accelerating the roll-out of smart metering technology in Australia in a bid to realise the tech’s benefits sooner.

The Australian Energy Market Commission has its sights set on accelerating the roll-out of smart metering technology in Australia in a bid to realise the tech’s benefits sooner.

Smart meters – also known as ‘advanced’ meters or ‘type 4’ meters in Australia – are devices that digitally record a household’s energy consumption, measure the quality of the connection and advise providers of outages remotely.

Although these devices were made mandatory across Victoria in 2011, the rest of the country has been slow to adopt the technology – they account for only 25% of meters in NSW, ACT, Queensland and South Australia.

In Tasmania, the penetration of these meters is slightly better at 35%.

The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) now wants to accelerate the take-up of these devices to unlock their potential benefits to both consumers and the broader energy grid.

AEMC chair Anna Collyer noted the use of smart meters will be instrumental in reducing Australia’s carbon emissions.

“At a community level, smart meters are a crucial enabling tool for the reforms we all need to decarbonise the grid. They are a gateway to enabling a more dynamic and flexible market,” she said. 

“We need the aggregated data that sufficient numbers of smart meters could provide on usage and power quality before we can really rely fully on these resources to power the grid.”

To access these kinds of benefits, the AEMC expects Australia would need smart meter penetration of at least 50% – which at the current rate of uptake would not happen for another 4-5 years.

In a bid to hasten this transition, the AEMC recommended changes be made to current regulatory frameworks and proposed four potential options.

These include:

  • Removing inefficiencies in the installation processes by improving the customer experience and reducing delays in meter replacements among other actions 
  • Requiring meters to be replaced once they have reached a certain age, e.g. 30 years 
  • Setting roll-out targets for retailers 
  • Introducing a ‘backstop’ date by when all accumulation meters or manually read interval meters must be replaced

The AEMC are currently taking submissions on these proposals, and aim to publish a final report on the matter early next year.

Smart Cities the future of urban space

AEMC’s calls for a regulatory overhaul come amid a broader global trend towards making urban spaces ‘smart’ by using Internet of Things (IoT) devices to gather data and better tailor components of a city’s infrastructure to the needs of stakeholders.

By 2028, an estimated four billion IoT devices will be in commercial ‘smart’ buildings across the world, powered by communications technologies like 5G and integrated with utilities like power and water.

These sorts of developments have been enabled by small electronic components called semiconductors – sometimes known as microchips – which have been critical in connecting the physical world to digital networks.

The rapid uptake of digital technologies and IoT devices by businesses and consumers is now spurring a supercycle for the semiconductor market, which even recent supply chain shocks are unlikely to derail.

Sources:


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