The use of smart meters plays an important role in indirect CO2-savings through ICT. In future, electronic smart meters will replace the conventional mechanical meters in private households and businesses, thus bringing fresh impetus into the energy sector. Compared with their predecessors, smart meters are equipped with a range of additional functions, including remote readings of current consumption, a (graphic) display of current and historic power consumption, charts displaying electricity costs in relation to current prices and the option of remotely switching external devices.
More than two-thirds of the ICT executives surveyed for the study (68%) state that saving energy or electricity has great or very great importance for their company (see Figure 7-15) and more than half of the executives surveyed say that transparency in the power consumption of individual production areas plays an important or very important role for the company. Accordingly, 56 percent of the ICT executives say that smart meteringis important or very important for their company. Smart metering is considered most important in the United Kingdom (63%) and the United States (62%). In future, 63 percent of the executives surveyed expect smart metering to play an important or very important role (see Figure 7-16).
This standpoint is also shared by consumers: Just under three-quarters of the consumers surveyed state that they consider it decisive or very important that both individuals and enterprises take a conscious approach to energy consumption. (see Figure 7-17).
For the future, around 68 percent of consumers expect Smart Metering to play an important or very important role in their household (see Figure 7-18).
Nearly half of the consumers (46%) believe that the biggest advantage of smart metering is that it raises awareness of resource consumption and encourages people to use energy more economically. Nearly one quarter of the consumers (24%) believe that greater cost transparency is the biggest advantage, 22 percent mention financial advantages, e.g. provided by using cheaper off-peak power, as the most important reason to use smart metering.
When asked about concrete applications, three quarters of the 1,336 consumers surveyed for the LIFE 2 Study (74%) say that it is very important for them to know how much electricity the electronic appliances in their household consume. 70 percent would, in principle, welcome a function which automatically switches on household applicances when power is cheapest. Nearly as many, 69 percent, would like to be able to control their household appliances remotely, e.g. switch the heating on or off with a remote control.
By controlling electricity and power networks, ICT can also make a vast contribution to tackling the challenges that will emerge in the next few years. The Smart 2020 Addendum Deutschland study lists a few examples, including the integration of fluctuating power sources (e.g. offshore wind energy parks) and the rapid growth of decentralized power generation capacities (e.g. through micro power plants, solar panels and wind turbines). The use of information technology and bidirectional data communication could be used to create a smart grid which would offer considerable advantages compared with conventional power networks in terms of energy efficiency, transparency, operation costs and system stability.