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Realizing the full potential of smart metering

Overview

Smart metering deployment represents a common first step into smart grid solutions at scale for many utilities. The 10 largest national deployments worldwide are expected to add 500 million new smart meters by 2020, approximately tripling the 2012 global installed base, and the locus of growth shifting from North America to Europe, then Latin America and Asia.

Despite the ongoing rollouts, many utilities are still unclear about the optimal route to extracting value from these large investments. Whether utilities are at the stage of planning, preparation or actual deployment, the blanket term “smart” masks a more complex reality. Smart metering means different things to different utilities, given the variety of prevailing industry structures, legal frameworks, regulatory mandates, availability of technology, network infrastructure stability and the operational environments. There is a wide array of possible approaches to deploying smart technologies and benefit areas on which to focus most aggressively.

Background

Smart metering deployment has the potential to deliver value across the entire value chain. Results from Accenture’s recent utilities executive survey, conducted as part of Accenture’s Digitally Enabled Grid program on insights from smart grid and smart metering, confirms that utilities are focused on different benefits from their deployments. For North American respondents, the role of smart metering as a means to support outage management and increasing grid reliability are clear priorities.

In contrast, European utilities are much more focused on consumer-related capabilities and meeting regulatory mandates. These smart metering priorities reflect the macro challenges countries face and whether the deployment is mandated or not.

Key Findings

Accenture has identified five critical success factors to help confirm sustainable benefits realization from smart metering across the full breadth of the business, from design through deployment:

  • Putting the consumer and the community at the heart of the design

  • Managing the complexities of deployment

  • Focusing on the people and process change

  • Future proofing the technology

  • Releasing further value from analytics

Smart meters may be a revolutionary technology, but the process of achieving ongoing value is more likely to be evolutionary in nature. Building in business and technical flexibility will be critical for seizing opportunities as the uses of smart metering evolve.