What’s German for “Smart Meter”?

December 15, 2009 at 8:49 pm

Germany’s smart meter law takes effect January 1st.  Beginning then, all electricity meters on new construction and renovations – an estimated 5% of households per year – must be “smart” meters.  The problem is that the law itself defines “smart” only as “digital”, with no further specificity.  Most countries require that smart meters meet five needs: collect interval data, deliver it daily, have a disconnect switch, have a Home Area Network interface, and support two-way communications.

In a press interview, Annegret Agricola, Head of the Division of Energy Systems and Energy Services of the German Energy Agency (DENA) in Berlin, shed additional light on the German law.  She clarified that in Germany the intervals should be 15-minute, the data is to be collected “several” times per day, and consumers are to be able to view their data on line on a Web portal.  By the end of the year, time-of-use or other dynamic pricing options must be offered to consumers.  The German Federal Ministry of Environment estimates that such tariffs will result in usage reductions of 10 to 30 percent (likely during the high-priced periods).

Why does this matter?  To begin, Germany, at 223 million metric tons in 2001, was the sixth largest carbon emitter in the world after the United States (1565 mmt), China (832 mmt), Russia (440 mmt), Japan (316 mmt), and India (251 mmt).  As such, Germany is a key player in the fight against global warming.  In addition, Germany’s use of smart meter standards similar to those in the U.S. and elsewhere promotes international standards, which in turn reduce costs and improve functionality.

Germany’s initiative is a welcome sight.

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