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Pathways of smart metering development: shaping environmental innovation

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/03/1999
<mark>Journal</mark>Computers, Environment and Urban Systems
Issue number2
Volume23
Number of pages18
Pages (from-to)109-126
StatePublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Utility meters are being transformed from simple measurement devices to complex socio-technical systems, enhanced by the addition of new informational and communication capacities. In this paper, we examine how there are multiple opportunities for the development of environmental applications within smarter metering systems. These include improving the efficiency of generation and distribution networks by more imaginative and customer-specific load and tariff control packages or providing customers with cost and environmental messages through user displays. The take-up of these potentials is strongly framed by the competing commercial priorities established by privatisation and liberalisation. Identifying four distinct metering technical development pathways (TDPs), the paper shows how the insertion of environmental functionalities into different smart meters is only partly a technological issue. Each TDP is designed to structure relations between users and the utilities. Different types of environmental opportunities exist within each TDP, but these potentials are often squeezed out by competing priorities. Implementing these environmental applications would require a powerful shift in regulatory and institutional frameworks within which utilities and manufacturers configure the functionalities of smart meters. It is only in this way that the flexible approach needed to recognise and reinstate environmental objectives into the development of smart meters could be realised and maintained.