Smart grids and meters

Smart grids are energy networks that can automatically monitor energy flows and adjust to changes in energy supply and demand accordingly. When coupled with smart metering systems, smart grids reach consumers and suppliers by providing information on real-time consumption.

With smart meters, consumers can adapt their energy usage to different energy prices throughout the day, allowing them to consume more during lower price periods and save money on their energy bills.

As smart grids show information on supply and demand, they are particularly beneficial for the integration of renewable energy sources, like solar and wind power, which often depend on the weather to generate sufficient output. In addition, smart grids open up the possibility for consumers who produce their own energy to respond to prices and sell excess amounts to the grid. 

Smart meter rollout

The EU aims to replace at least 80% of electricity meters with smart meters by 2020 wherever it is cost-effective to do so. This smart metering and smart grids rollout can reduce emissions in the EU by up to 9% and annual household energy consumption by similar amounts. To measure cost effectiveness, EU countries conducted cost-benefit analyses based on guidelines provided by the European Commission. A similar assessment was carried out on smart meters for gas.

Smart meters should allow consumers to reap the benefits of the progressive digitalisation of the energy market via several different functions. Consumers should also be able to access dynamic electricity price contracts.

A 2014 Commission report on the deployment of smart metering found:

  • close to 200 million smart meters for electricity and 45 million for gas will be rolled out in the EU by 2020. This represents a potential investment of €45 billion
  • by 2020, it is expected that almost 72% of European consumers will have a smart meter for electricity. About 40% will have one for gas
  • the cost of installing a smart meter in the EU is on average between €200 and €250
  • on average, smart meters provide savings of €160 for gas and €309 for electricity per metering point (distributed amongst consumers, suppliers, distribution system operators, etc.) as well as an average energy saving of 3%

Smart grids and data protection

Consumer personal data is protected by EU rules on processing and free movement on data. Smart grids and meters may have an impact on personal data and privacy, which is why the EU has taken a series of measures to uphold data protection rules. One example is the impact assessment template, updated by the Smart grids task force in September 2018, and which serves as guidance on data protection and privacy for data controllers and investors in smart grids.

In addition to data protection and privacy, cybersecurity has increasingly become an issue related to smart grids and meters. The Commission is committed to mitigating any risks and enhancing resilience towards cybersecurity.

More on critical infrastructure and cybersecurity.

Inventory of smart grid projects in Europe

The EU's Joint Research Centre, in close cooperation with the Directorate-General for Energy, compiles and periodically updates an inventory of smart grid projects in the EU.

In cooperation with Eurelectric, the Joint Research Centre also provides an interactive map of smart grid and meter projects.

Events and meetings 

The European Commission has organised several meetings on smart grids and meters within the Smart grids task force, but also bigger conferences and events


Related links