Ireland’s government will make a decision by the end of 2007 on the roll-out and funding of a national five-year programme to install smart meters for all householders.

In addition steps will be initiated, in conjunction with the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER), Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) and energy suppliers, to roll out the provision of real time energy displays for households which have demonstrable potential to reduce energy bills.

These are among actions detailed in the government’s White Paper on Energy, ‘Delivering a sustainable energy future for Ireland’, which provides an energy policy framework for the period 2007 to 2020.

A pilot smart meter project of 200 houses in the Dundalk Sustainable Energy Zone (between Dublin and Belfast) is currently under way by SEI. These actions form part of the goal of maximising energy efficiency and conservation, with an achievable target of 20% savings, and an indicative target of a 30% saving in energy across the electricity, transport and heating sectors by 2020.

Following the release of the White Paper on Energy, the CER released a consultation paper on smart metering aimed at reviewing the economic case for the introduction of smart metering in Ireland. A preliminary cost benefit analysis by the Commission found that there is the potential to introduce large savings over a 15 year period following the rollout of smart meters and the introduction of the relevant tariffs.

However, the net benefit is such that a more detailed study is required, including assessment of the options for recovery of the costs of purchasing, installing and operating the smart meters, given that these costs will be higher than the benefits provided in the early years. /