Energy industry celebrates another smart metering milestone

Last week marked another major smart metering milestone: the five millionth latest-generation (SMETS2) smart meter was installed in Britain. We’re proud to say that one million of the SMETS2 meters have been installed by British Gas. 

The roll-out of smart meters is continuing at pace now we are out of full lockdown in most areas. This is all thanks to the thousands of smart engineers out installing them every day, while taking extra safety precautions to protect themselves and customers.

We’ve made good progress at British Gas, with over eight million smart meters installed in our customers’ homes and businesses. These customers continue to see first-hand the positive impact that smart meters deliver.

The roll-out hasn’t been without its challenges, but we have worked with the industry on solutions throughout the programme. We have piloted solutions for gas only and prepayment customers to ensure these customers get the benefits of smart. And we are starting to see many first-generation (SMETS1) meters regain their smart services when customers switch suppliers.

Together we’ve tackled some critical issues and it’s been great to see increasing collaboration across the industry.  More and more customers have become eligible for smart meters and with new technology solutions on their way in the next year or so, this will increase further to serve those customers in more challenging properties such as tall buildings.

The smart roll-out is essential to support the country’s journey to net-zero and a clean economic recovery.  Those smart little boxes are the building blocks for the smart grid, supporting new innovations across microgeneration, electric vehicles, and the future of heating.

I’m so passionate about the programme - it’s one of the biggest infrastructure improvements in our lifetime, and it’s a privilege to be involved. 

In 2009, we installed our very first smart meter. That was at a time when only 16% of people in the UK had a smartphone! Now we can install one every 47 seconds using our own workforce of around 1,700 smart energy experts. We were the first supplier to install SMETS2 meters connected to the central Data Communications Company platform - and had to retrain all those engineers on how to do that!

Energy is finally being brought into the digital age, resulting in a growth of information - and it’s up to us to make it useful. Many of our customers are now able to see their energy use with a feed updated to their British Gas app every 10 seconds. This is particularly useful for customers who are now at home more and looking for simple ways to cut their home energy usage.

It’s an exciting time and we’re multi-skilling some our smart metering colleagues to help us adapt to the changing landscape and to install EV charging points and heat pumps (these new technologies are all supported with smart meters).  Helping our colleagues to develop vital skills is critical, and it’s great to see they’re inspired to take up these broader career opportunities.

Find out more here about how we’re helping our customers run their worlds in more sustainable ways.

By Sharon Johnson, Portfolio Director of Energy at British Gas.