It is becoming apparent that a cast-iron investment case for AMR has yet to be made, and that current investments are being driven by regulatory intervention and not pure business decisions, according to a new report from independent market analyst Datamonitor.
In the search for technological solutions to reduce energy consumption, AMR technology has been heralded as one of the elements that will change consumers’ energy consumption patterns. However, while analysts talk of AMR as a single technology, in reality the solution is comprised of a number of technological components that are all decided upon and configured.
There are multiple options that exist for the actual meter that sits in consumers’ homes, and options exist for the hard- and software systems to process and integrate the meter data. There are also different communication options for getting the meter data from the home to the utility company and back again, and this, the report suggests, is perhaps the most interesting battleground, with broadly three different solutions – powerline communication, fixed line transportation, and the most recent development, transportation of data using mobile networks.
This battle, it notes, is being played out by Vattenfall with its AMR installation in three different areas of Sweden, each utilising a different communication option. While the technology to support the introduction of AMR has been around for some time, large scale European rollouts have not materialised in the way that some analysts expected, the report says. In the past costs have been prohibitive for utility companies and the payback period for such investment was at best uncertain. to date, the installation of new meters has actually been driven by government intervention and regulation.
“And in a future of liberalised energy markets across Europe it becomes difficult to ascertain which player in the value chain will be prepared to swallow the huge investment needed for large scale AMR roll-outs without further regulatory or government intervention of one sort or another.”