The development of the smart grid was the answer to the energy sector’s quest to control the uninhibited consumption of energy. Smart meters—the new advancements in technology—are a vital component of the smart grid. The advent of smart meters in 2009 gave way to modernization of the electric power grid. It is replacing the aging infrastructure that powered our homes and businesses.
The smart grid is a way of redefining the standard utility-customer relationship. Communication between utility and customer used to be one-way, and energy was transmitted from a centralized end to customers. There was no knowledge of the consumption production or management. The only thing that could ever disconcert the customer was a power outage or blackout. Now smart meters are stepping up to replace old analog meters. These are designed to provide utility customers with real-time information about how much energy is being consumed, its costs, and the impact of its consumption on greenhouse gas emissions. These devices transmit information more frequently than analog meters, which require a meter reader to do the same.
Utility industry is involving advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) systems as part of bigger and better initiatives for smart grid technology. AMI allows for dynamic communication networks between utility and customers, and is the backbone of smart grid. They assist consumers in using electricity efficiently, as well as help utilities to detect system-related problems and operate them more efficiently.
The digital smart meter was preeminent in bridging the gap between utility departments when the utilities industry was struggling with operational issues of inefficiency, manual processes and aging technology. Perhaps the most innovative feature about them is that they are multifunctional and interactive. Smart meter data could be integrated with other utility data and systems for control over consumption and cost, accurate billing, innovative pricing models and environmental benefits.
Smart meters rollouts are on a high as reports have shown deployment in several regions. By 2015, electric utilities in the U.S. had installed close to 64.7 million smart meters. China has seen a massive deployment of smart meters and has driven as much as 71 percent of this annual volume. The UK Parliament declared that between 2014 and 2019, Britain would roll out more than 50 million new smart meters to 30 million homes and businesses in the country.