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At present, Europe leads the world in terms of the number of smart meters deployed (ABI Research estimates that almost 46 million units had been deployed across the region by the end of 2011). However, the vast potential of the market is still nowhere near close to being fully exploited. In fact, if you take Italy and the Scandinavian countries out of the equation, the combined installed base of the remainder of the continent is only around 5 million units. That said, activity is beginning to ramp up in some of the major markets such as Spain and the UK.Let's take a quick look at how UK-based utilities are shaping up to meet the government’s ambitious plans to have all business and residential electricity and gas meters converted to smart meters by 2020.

At last week’s M2M World Congress in London,itemerged that British Gas has so far installed around 400,000 smart meters across the UK.Around half of these were located at its small and medium-sized enterprise sites, with the other half located in customer's homes. By the end of 2012,the companyaims tohaveincreasedthe total number of smart meters deployed to around 2 million.Deployment partners include: Vodafone, which is providing GPRS connectivity to metersthat log readings on a half-hourly basis and transmit information back to the utility every 24 hours;Trilliant, which has developed the communications hub and management software for the solution; as well as Landis+Gyr and Elster – both of whom have been selected as preferred providers of smart meters.

E.ON UKis another utility that ismoving past the pilot phase and starting to deploy smart meters in larger numbers. The company recently announced that it will roll out up to 100,000 units in 2012, followed by a further 200,000 in 2013 on top of the 100,000 it already has in the field. By 2014, it plans to have installed 1 million smart meters nationwide. Like British Gas,E.ON has chosen Elster asthe provider of its smart meters.

The other utilities comprising the UK’s so-called “big six energy companies” – EDF Energy, Scottish Power, RWE Npower and Scottish and Southern Energy are all believed to be testing a variety of different solutions in anticipation of a fully-mandated rollout. This is expected to start in 2014 when the Smart Meter Regulation Group (SMRG) is fully in place.
All in all, we estimate that there are around 750,000 smart meters installed and in operation across the UK and Northern Ireland at present. However, the UK government wants to see some 47 million smart electricity and gas meters (or 53 million depending on which source you read) deployed by 2020 thus illustrating that there is still a massive amount of work to do in order for the country to meet its objectives. Nevertheless, this long and arduous task is underway in earnest and in the next few years, the UK will account for a much greater chunk of the European installed base than it currently does.