1 million smart meters connected to our network, aiding Britain’s lower carbon future

By Dan Lambert, Chief Operations Officer, Smart DCC

Today the one millionth second-generation smart meter was connected to our secure network.  This achievement represents a major milestone in the digitisation of the country’s energy system. Every new connected meter gives another household or small business the ability to control their energy spend better and decarbonise their lives.

The rollout is a massive undertaking, and credit is due to the energy companies, distribution network operators, and all the organisations in the supply chain. This is one of the most far-reaching national infrastructure programmes Britain has seen. At scale, the reach of the DCC’s central network will surpass that of superfast broadband or digital terrestrial TV. 

A mere 11 months ago there were only 1000 second-generation (known as SMETS2) meters installed. Now that’s risen to a million, and our partners are installing 20 meters every minute of the working day.

So, the pace of the rollout has been increasing; but there’s still much more to do before the end of 2020. We have the talent and expertise of our service providers Telefonica and Arqiva for communications, along with CGI for data, to make sure the network fulfils its potential to connect the country.

There are some big technical challenges ahead of us this year, and we’re doing everything we can, along with the service providers, to support energy companies with the roll out.

Part of the task involves retrofitting to our network millions of first-generation smart meters, known as SMETS1 meters. These meters, live in people’s homes, require extensive testing so they can join our nationwide network by 2020. More than 500 different technology combinations need to be connected to the network, through a software upgrade delivered over the airwaves. Extensive testing and proving is necessary to make sure that the consumer’s experience in their home is a smooth one.

The benefits of every smart meter running on the same network are already being realised. In April alone, the network carried 30 million messages from devices connected to it. Anonymised consumption data from smart meters will allow the industry to predict and anticipate energy use and facilitate smarter use of renewables. With 1 million meters installed, the contribution of big data to building a smarter energy system is already significant.

Smart meters put the consumer in the driving seat, allowing them to see and adapt their energy usage and carbon footprint. Studies have shown that smart meters help people save energy. But beyond the savings that 30m households and small businesses may achieve, digitising energy -- the last great analogue industry -- will enable Britain to decarbonise and deliver cleaner air for future generations.

We’re also working hard to enable a more competitive energy market by delivering Ofgem’s Faster, More Reliable Switching programme, through which consumers will be able to change energy supplier smoothly within 24 hours, perhaps accessing a cheaper tariff, or switching to a 100% renewable supplier.

Each of these innovations contributes to a singular goal: enabling the lower carbon economy needed to meet ambitious climate change targets and to ensure our children inherit a clean planet. That aspiration will continue to drive our work – installing the next million meters, and onwards – until every home is connected to this smart revolution.