Smart electricity grids are a priority for the European Union, but the European Commission is placing less emphasis on smart gas metering due to inconclusive cost-benefit analyses, according to a new document released this week by the European Parliamentary Research Service.
The briefing titled 'Smart electricity grids and meters in the EU Member States' said that while the Commission encourages the deployment of smart metering across EU Member States, in practice significant variations exist among countries in their deployment of smart metering, the precise energy cost savings are uncertain and there remain concerns about security and data protection.
The document points out that energy producers unsurprisingly tend to be most supportive of smart metering, and have successfully pushed for full-scale deployment in several member states.
Meanwhile, the European Parliament is generally supportive of the development of smart grids and metering, but "asks that the process takes full account of consumer concerns, particularly in terms of costs and security".
European smart meter rollouts
The research department said the Commission will continue to monitor the roll-out of smart metering in member states where deployments have been approved.
It has asked member states such as Germany that are not opting for large-scale roll-outs to review the critical parameters and assumptions used in their cost benefit analyses.
While member states that have not produced a cost-benefit analysis or announced roll-out plans like Poland to do so swiftly.
Smart grid Europe
In 2009, the Commission set up a Smart Grids Task Force to develop common standards and technical requirements for smart grids.
By 2011, EU member states had invested €5.5 billion in about 300 smart grid projects with €300 million coming from the EU budget.
The Commission's Joint Research Centre keeps a detailed inventory of all smart grid and metering projects in Europe and has carried out its own research on the subject.
Two smart grid Europe projects of common interest have been selected for EU funding by the Connecting Europe Facility.
The North Atlantic Green Zone will deliver a technologically advanced cross- border smart grid between the UK and Ireland, with increased capability and high speed communication.
While the Green-Me project finances the feasibility study and design phase of a smart grid interconnection that aims to improve integration of renewable energy and storage capacity across several regions of France and Italy.