By 2020, 50 million homes across the UK will have hopefully made the switch to Smart Meters, allowing end users to better manage their energy output and its cost. Mark Krull, Director for Logic Certiﬁcation, explains the new marketplace and how to get involved.
Some of the ‘big six’ energy suppliers have already begun installing Smart Meters for customers in select regions. Supplier-led roll out will start this autumn, changing us from consumers ‘in the dark’ about energy usage, to knowledgeable and in-control end users, who understand how they can cut their fuel bills and carbon footprint.
For suitably trained electrical installers, this presents a new business opportunity, starting in earnest from 2016. All the energy suppliers have different plans for smart meter installation, depending on factors like location of their main customer base. Installers should check with their local suppliers for specific information.
“The installer is key in this process. Once the Smart Meter is installed, the person that ﬁtted it must hand it over properly; for the beneﬁt of their customer and the overall aim of reducing carbon emissions.”
With plans to fit at least 20 million Smart Meters between 2016 and 2018, demand should accelerate quickly from the start of next year. It is predicted that this demand will peak in 2019. Smart Meters will first be installed in urban and semi-urban areas.
Smart Meters success
The key to the Smart Meter roll out and subsequent reduced use of energy being a success is customer education. By educating customers in how to use their Smart Meter and understand its readings, it becomes an empowering tool that allows end users to make their own decisions about how they use electricity and gas – good decisions will result in money saving. The installer is key in this process. Once the Smart Meter is installed, the person that ﬁtted it must hand it over properly; for the beneﬁt of their customer and the overall aim of reducing carbon emissions.
Only two years ago a survey by uSwitch revealed that 55% of customers didn’t know what Smart Meters did and how they could benefit from them. Apart from national advertising campaigns by government and the ‘big six’ the installer’s role is crucial in making sure this new technology is understood.
Ofgem has put in place a Smart Metering Installation Code of Practice, which ensures companies will properly explain how the smart meters work, and outline how households can use the data available to them to improve their energy efficiency.
There will be some completely new entrants into the electrical sector getting involved in Smart Meter installation (the same goes for gas), but for existing electricians, up-skilling to include Smart Meters in your offering and engaging with the organisations responsible for the roll out, could provide a worthwhile additional business stream over the next few years.
You don’t need any speciﬁc qualiﬁcations to start training as a Smart Meter installer though some employers may prefer you to have a minimum of four GCSEs or equivalent. Qualiﬁcations in maths, english, science, design and technology or electronics would all be useful.
Once you have been suitably trained to install Smart Meters, electricians will need authorisation from a power supplier to install meters. Your employer would also certify you as competent through the Meter Operation Code of Practice Agreement (MOCOPA).
Smart Meter installation work will be available through energy companies, utility contractors, housing associations and specialist installation ﬁrms.
Smart Meter training
Logic Certiﬁcation has introduced a QCF Level 2 Diploma in Smart Meters, covering both gas and electricity, plus the vitally important customer-facing skills that will help end users understand this new technology and change their energy usage to reduce consumption.
Engineers completing the electrical element of the Smart Meter qualiﬁcation will be able to apply for authorisation from a Power Supplier to install meters, those holding the gas qualiﬁcation are eligible to register with Gas Safe Register. To install Smart Meters you must be working for an authorised company. The course is available through some approved Logic Certiﬁcation centres.