Smart meter rollout dented: Lockdown halts progress of installations and fewer than half of homes are predicted to have one by next summer
- The rollout will now only reach 48% completion by the end of June 2021
- This is compared to the 61% predicted pre-pandemic
- Many are still averse to having a meter fitted at home
The smart meter rollout has been significantly dented by the coronavirus lockdown and has put fitting targets way off track, new research has revealed.
During lockdown, installations of the smart meters have not been allowed for health and safety reasons.
However, whilst fittings are now back up and running, the rollout will now only reach 48 per cent completion by the end of June 2021, compared to 61 per cent on the pre-pandemic forecast, according to estimates from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
The data comes after the Government recently announced that the rollout target for energy suppliers to take ‘all reasonable steps’ to install the devices has been extended by six months to June 2021.
Halted: The smart meter rollout has been significantly dented by the coronavirus lockdown
The date for energy firms to meet their smart meter installation targets was moved back four years from 2020 to 2024 last year, after installing millions less of the devices than planned.
The impact of the coronavirus on the rollout is evident with a substantial deviation between the pre-pandemic forecast and future rollout expectations, according to research from Cornwall Insight, a firm that analyses energy data.
The company looked at BEIS and Ofgem’s initial indications of future rollout levels compared to pre-pandemic expectations.
The below graph shows two coronavirus impacted rollout profiles, based on recent assessments from Ofgem and BEIS released in May and June.
These are compared with a ‘pre-pandemic’ profile based on data from an Ofgem assessment published in October 2019 and a BEIS impact assessment from September 2019.
It shows that the rollout prediction has significantly slowed since the lockdown was put in place.
The graph shows how many smart meters were expected to be installed pre-coronavirus
Rowan Hazell, senior analyst at Cornwall Insight, said: ‘The social distancing and lockdown measures brought in to tackle Covid-19 has caused the smart meter rollout to deviate off course, with uncertainty around the future trajectory of the programme.
‘Although installations have begun to pick up as lockdown measures have eased, a return to normal levels is a long way off, the long-term impact on the rollout is still to be revealed over the coming months and years.
‘Following June 2021, a new four-year framework will be introduced, requiring suppliers to meet binding installation targets on an annual basis.
‘The Government will be consulting in autumn on how lenient those targets should be, taking the pandemic into account.’
Despite a decrease in installations, BEIS said industry data suggests the rate of installations would have increased last quarter without the pandemic.
The new four-year smart meter policy framework will begin in July 2021 and it expects to consult on the minimum coverage that energy suppliers will be required to achieve in autumn 2020.
The government claims that installing smart meters could save consumers up to £250 on their bills, while cutting countrywide carbon emissions by four million tonnes – the equivalent of taking 26million cars off the road for a year.
Despite this, many people have been put off having one installed due to the numerous issues that have plagued the rollout.
This has included SMETS1 – first generation devices – failing to work in some cases after customers tried to change suppliers.
The rollout of SMETS2 – the second generation meters – was set to rectify this issue but unfortunately many suppliers were found to still give customers a first generation meter instead.
This was due to leftover supply that they had previously been unable to shift.