Written by Alex Wilson
Smart electricity grids feature in the European Commission’s Energy Union package and constitute a priority for the EU in the energy field. Proponents of smart grids argue they can contribute to a more efficient use of energy, increasing the share of renewables in the energy mix, reducing the infrastructure required to supply electricity, and curbing overall energy consumption. Smart grids can also empower consumers, making them more aware of their energy use and able to adjust it in response to price signals. To facilitate the development of smart grids, the Commission encourages the deployment of smart metering across EU Member States, in line with the recommendations of the 2009 gas and electricity packages.
Yet in practice significant variations exist among Member States in their deployment of smart metering, the precise energy cost savings are uncertain and there remain concerns about security and data protection. Energy producers tend to be most supportive of smart metering, and have successfully pushed for full-scale deployment in several member states. The European Parliament is generally supportive of the development of smart grids and metering, but asks that this process takes full account of consumer concerns, particularly in terms of costs and security.