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Chart of the Week

2020

Road to recovery: COVID-19 and the smart rollout

Rowan Hazell Senior Analyst

The full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the smart meter rollout is uncertain, although modelling from BEIS and Ofgem has provided early indications of future installation levels. In this week’s Chart of the Week we compare these assessments against pre-pandemic expectations. With the introduction of social distancing and lockdown measures in March, the smart meter rollout almost immediately ground to a halt. Industry data indicates that the introduction of measures coincided with a rapid decline in installations, with April’s electricity meter installations seeing a 95% year-on-year decrease. As lockdown measures start to ease, installations have begun to pick up, although a return to normal levels is a long way off, with the long-term impact on the rollout still to be revealed over the coming months and years. In its May consultation on the costs of smart metering under the default tariff cap, Ofgem approximated that installation rates in 2020 will reduce to 30% of the average annual 2017-19 rate, before continuing in 2021 at 100% of the rate until the end of 2023. We have used Ofgem’s figures to infer a dual fuel rollout profile, and compared this to a “pre-pandemic” profile based on figures from a similar Ofgem assessment published in October 2019 and BEIS’s post-2020 framework impact assessment from September 2019. Although the May 2020 assumptions have been updated with actual numbers for 2019, which saw lower than forecast installations, the impact of COVID-19 on the rollout is still evident. We have also included BEIS’s ...

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