There is finally clarity on which companies will supply the devices for France’s rollout of smart meters. France’s electricity distribution company, Electricité Réseau Distribution France (ERDF), has chosen six firms to supply the state-controlled utility with the first 3 million of the meters known as Linky: Landis+Gyr, Itron, Elster, SAGEMCOM, Ziv, and Maec.
By the year 2020, ERDF intends to install 35 million new smart meters at an estimated total cost of $6.5 billion. ERDF has been piloting smart meters since 2010, when approximately 300,000 meters were installed in the Tours and Lyon regions. The Linky meters use a power line communications (PLC) technology called G3-PLC. Among the meter vendors that took part in the pilot project was Slovenia-based Iskraemeco, though it was not selected to provide meters for the initial 3 million meter deployment.
The program is expected to begin in the third quarter of 2015 and conclude at the end of 2016. ERDF has not said when the next phase of meters will begin, but presumably vendor selection will take place within the next year. The move by ERDF to choose multiple meter suppliers was not unexpected and is similar to what Spanish utility Iberdrola did 2 years ago when it selected seven different suppliers for the initial rollout following its 2010 pilot project.
The timing of the next big phase of France’s smart meter rollout coincides with the expected start of a wide-scale deployment of smart meters in Great Britain in the fall of 2015. Utilities in Great Britain are to begin installing the meters in earnest in the fall of 2015, with a total of 53 million smart electric and natural gas meters to be in place by the end of 2020.
As noted in Navigant Research’s latest Smart Meters report, the expected large rollouts in France and Great Britain will make Europe the new focal point for the smart metering industry, as shipments have tapered off in North America since nearly all of the federal stimulus money that fueled deployments has been spent.