Major projects are now underway in both countries with the aim of improving efficiency and customer service through the implementation of intelligent metering technology. By 2010 at least 60 percent of Scandinavia’s 13 million power network customers will be covered by AMR.
Scandinavia is a region covering 1.2 million square kilometres with a population of 24 million people who are served by over 400 power utilities. E.ON, Fortum and Vattenfall are the market leaders in Sweden and Finland, while domestic companies such as NESA and Hafslund hold the top positions in Denmark and Norway. Together Scandinavia’s ten largest power utilities have a market share of around 50%. The other 50% is divided among small local power utilities that usually have less than 20,000 customers.
Ten years after the first steps in the creation of a common regional energy market Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden remain at the forefront of the development of the European electricity industry. An abundant supply of hydroelectric power has made the countries in the region heavily dependent on electric energy – for instance, Norway’s annual electricity consumption of 26,000 kWh per capita is over four times higher than the EU average.
It is therefore not surprising that there has been much interest in AMR technology in the Scandinavian countries. Market regulators, particularly in Sweden and Norway, have found many reasons for promoting the technology. A transition from estimated billing to tariff-based actual consumption is regarded as important for improving market efficiency and promoting energy conservation. Swedish authorities found a solid case for requiring more frequent meter readings, but their Norwegian counterparts are still undecided –costs for consumers are deemed to be too high in relation to the benefits if Norway adopts metering regulation based on the Swedish example.
Two years after the decision in the Swedish parliament and four years before the final deadline in July 2009 there are still open contracts for the upgrading of 4.5 million meters. Among the leading players only Vattenfall guarantees that it will meet the deadline. Vattenfall has also begun implementing AMR in Finland and may be followed by Fortum, which has over twice as many network customers in Sweden as in its domestic market. E.ON Finland intends to cover at least two thirds of its network customers with AMR by 2012.
Denmark is, however, possibly the most interesting Scandinavian country to watch at the moment. Two of the country’s five largest power utilities, one of them the market leader NESA, have taken independent initiatives to upgrade their distribution networks for remote meter reading. NESA has developed a customised in-house metering solution based on GSM/GPRS data communication. When fully deployed in 2010 it will connect over 500,000 electricity meters to the GSM/GPRS network operated by Sonofon in Denmark.