An £11 billion plan to install 50 million smart meters in homes in England, Wales and Scotland by 2020 has been thrown into chaos by proposed EU reforms to Britain’s electricity market.
Many of the two million meters that have already been installed may have to be removed or reprogrammed under the scheme, experts warned.
Wholesale electricity in Britain is traded in half-hourly intervals, unlike in Germany and most of the EU, where it is in 15-minute periods.
The EU wants to harmonise the UK’s electricity market with the rest of Europe, which would mean smart meters having to record data every 15 minutes compared with the present 30 minutes.
Dominic Whittome, a consultant with Mainline Energy, said that British smart meters, part of the biggest national infrastructure project in decades, were incompatible with the proposed change.
“It will render most if not all smart meters redundant,” he said, predicting that UK consumers will be faced with a bill running into “hundreds of millions of pounds” to comply with the change, which could be implemented in 2017.
Millions more non-compliant smart meters, which automatically transmit gas and electricity readings back to suppliers, have already been purchased by the Big Six energy companies and are sitting in warehouses ready to be installed next year. They may also have to be replaced or reconfigured with new software, Mr Whittome said. “It’s going to be hugely expensive.”