The rapid and widespread deployment of smart meters across Europe will see a phenomenal rise in data volumes during the next eight years.

In light of this huge increase in data, information, management firm, OpenText, has urged businesses to take steps now in order to prepare themsleves.

The warning came after a report by the UK-based smart metering supplier Sentec, which stated that the number of smart meters installed in European homes is likely to ‘accelerate swiftly’ over the next three years, with 70% deployment by 2015. This is in line with the Electricity Directive’s requirement for 80% of European consumers to have one installed by 2020.

OpenText UK’s energy and utility lead, Mark Baillie, said that the industry is nervous about the huge anticipated volumes of data, and understandably so, since the smart meter is constantly connected to the smart grid, meter readings will rise from 75 million a year, to 130 billion across Europe.

He continued, “It is crucial that energy companies maintain consistent communication with households, across all channels including invoicing, mobile devices and in-house displays (IHDs) in order to realise the benefits and savings of smart meters. Managing these communications, as well as the meter readings across multiple touchpoints, and archiving them in a secure and safe content environment that can handle huge volumes, is without doubt the industry’s biggest business challenge.

“Smart metering installations must include the ability to present current and historical energy consumption data and information to consumers in a format that they understand, as well as securely record and transmit data,” Baillie said.

The European Smart Metering Industry Group (ESMIG), of which OpenText is a member, recently commissioned a report by VAASA ETT that identified an average reduction in energy consumption of 8.5%, sustainable over time, when consumers used IHDs to display almost real time energy consumption data.

“The utilities sector is growing organically and changing in new ways as a result of smart metering and other initiatives to increase energy efficiency. Energy companies will need to communicate more effectively with customers about their energy usage, not only to make these schemes work, but also to reduce our overall energy consumption and meet targets set by the EU,” concluded Baillie.

The ESMIG report can be downloaded from www.esmig.eu/press/filestor/empower-demand-report