The installed base of smart gas meters in Europe amounted to 45.9 million units in 2021, Berg Insight has reported in its latest annual update.
The analysts also anticipate the installed base to continue to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 8.7% between 2021 and 2027, reaching 75.9 million units at the end of the period.
Annual shipment volumes amounted to 6.6 million units in 2021 but are expected to drop slightly to within the range of 5-6 million over the next five years with the completion of several large-scale nationwide rollouts.
France, the UK, Italy and the Netherlands were the most active markets in 2021, together accounting for the majority of the smart gas meter shipments during the year, Berg Insight states. While the rollouts in Italy, France and the Netherlands will soon be completed, conversely in the UK the market is expected to ramp up yearly installations to reach up to 3.6 million units per year during 2023-2025.
Belgium and Ireland are two other markets that are expected to contribute with significant shipment volumes in the next few years.
However, whether any other countries introduce rollouts remains to be seen, following the request in October by the European Commission for a revisiting of cost-benefit analyses in those cases in which the earlier analyses concluded against a rollout.
Berg Insight also highlights that the smart gas meters deployed in Europe have over the past years not been networked in quite the same way as their counterparts in the electricity sector. A common model, observed for example in the UK, the Netherlands and Belgium, is to utilise a local wireless or wired interface to transmit gas data via the customer’s smart electricity meter.
A mix of 169MHz RF and 2G/3G cellular communications has meanwhile been the primary model for the largest projects in which smart gas meters have been deployed independently of smart electricity meters, such as in Italy and France.
For example, in 2021, 169MHz RF was the most common communications technology with a market share of 40%.
But a change may now be on the horizon with the wider availability of new types of LPWA technologies in the past couple of years.
The Italian gas sector has been the first in Europe to initiate large-scale adoption of NB-IoT and in 2021 the installed base of gas meters with NB-IoT connectivity there almost doubled to reach 1.7 million at the end of the year.
Looking ahead, by 2027 Zigbee is expected to surpass 169MHz RF to become the most prevalent connectivity option with an installed base of close to 24.9 million units.
At the same time NB-IoT/LTE-M is to grow significantly to reach an installed base of 10.7 million units in 2027, making it the third most common connectivity option on the European smart gas meter market.
Berg Insight also comments on the anticipated increase in the use of hydrogen in European gas supply operations.
“As the properties of hydrogen differ significantly from those of natural gas, meter vendors will have to put in place relevant technological and strategic roadmaps in order to position themselves in the new European renewable energy sector,” advises IoT analyst Mattias Carlsson.