ELF 2018: ‘Unlikely UK smart meter rollout will ever offer value for money’

Peter Atherton, Associate at Cornwall Insight, says the domestic rollout has been unnecessarily complex and costly

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By Jonny Bairstow
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It is unlikely the UK’s smart meter rollout will ever offer good value for money.

That’s according to Peter Atherton, Associate at Cornwall Insight, who spoke to ELN at last week’s Energy Live Future event in London.

He believes the domestic rollout of the technology has been unnecessarily complex and costly, largely because it has taken so long to implement that the technology has become “out-of-date”.

He suggested the UK should cut its losses and only deploy the equipment to those households that would directly benefit from it – he believes this figure is between five and 10 million homes, significantly lower than the 30 million the scheme is currently targeting.

Mr Atherton believes around 20 million households’ smart meters will prove, at best, cost-neutral and added large numbers will actually lose out as the benefits are not equally shared among consumers.

He said it should instead have been driven by consumer choice, with a variety of competing technologies and a faster rollout.

He told ELN the biggest benefits will be enjoyed by the nation’s energy supply companies because they will be able to reduce their costs.

Mr Atherton added: “No IT programme should take 10 years to design and another seven or eight years to roll out because effectively by the time you get to end of rollout, the technology and the principles behind that technology are already 15 to 20 years out of date.

“You could certainly argue that the way the UK has done it has been for certain very slow, for certain its been very complicated and for certain it’s been very, very expensive. Will it ever deliver value for money for the consumer? Given those three things, it’s unlikely.”