Japan launches huge rollout of smart metres

As part of its recent submission to the United Nations explaining how it will cut carbon emissions, Japan proposes to install smart metres on every commercial, industrial and residential building by the early 2020s. It also promises to roll out fuel cells to 5 million homes.

Both efforts are aimed at reducing power consumption to compensate for closure of the country’s nuclear reactors. Some observers, however, are skeptical that the smart metres will make a difference.

“Unless households and power companies can communicate seamlessly on how to manage energy use and design tariffs that reduce peak demand from fossil-fuel dependent energy grids, smart metres will only provide a very small contribution to cutting carbon emissions,” said British Professor Keith Tovey as quoted by RTCC.org.

Tovey is skeptical in part because of experiences in UK pilot programs. Many customers there have stopped paying attention to the information provided by the smart metres.

Toshiba appears to be the big winner from this new initiative. Last year it landed a deal to install 27,000,000 smart metres to the customers of Tepco, Japan’s largest utility.

The UN submission also promised that Japan would launch an ambitious research program to lower the costs of fuel cells and create national standards. It intends to install 5.3 million fuel cells by 2030.

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