At the beginning of 2020, the time had finally come: the starting signal for the smart meter rollout and thus an important step for the energy transition. On March 4 2021, however, the Higher Administrative Court Münster lifts the obligation to install smart metering systems by emergency order. Why? Previously, the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) declared that only certain approved smart meter gateways, which meet the requirements for system functionality and security, may be installed. That was followed by a law suit from different companies, because the declaration of the BSI means that gateways, which are not approved, are no longer allowed to be installed. Now the Higher Administrative Court reacted to this law suit with an emergency order.
What does this mean for the German energy industry?
The provisional stop of the smart meter rollout brings insecurity into the German energy industry and a broad discussion has started. As we are an expert for energy management software, which plays an important part in the rollout, this court decision concerns us as well.
“The competitiveness of large industrialized countries like Germany is impaired by long decision processes, dated IT structures, widespread skepticism towards technology and, compared internationally, insufficient investments in future technology,” according to a strategy paper of the Federal Foreign Office.
“Germany is good at stopping” one could also say. Until the end of 2020, more than 780 million smart meter gateways have been installed worldwide: 300 million of them in China, 120 million in the EU, 95 million in the US – but not more than 50.000 in Germany!
More transparency for targeted action
The current German regional election results show that people are concerned about climate change. They expect from the politicians that they care about sustainable economic activity and environmental protection. To reduce the individual carbon footprint, everyone, in private as well as in business context, has to assess and manage their actions. Transparency on one’s own energy consumption builds the base for targeted action. This is impossible with analog electricity meters. Stopping the smart meter rollout is therefore not an option for our CEO, Dr. Thomas Goette:
“Germany is clearly not a pioneer for digitalization in health care, education or administration. This and the way we handle data must change. This also applies to energy supply as it is an important component. The frequent comparison of the never-ending Berlin Airport project and the smart meter rollout shows that the delay in building up a digital, controllable infrastructure cannot be in the interest of the common economic good and climate protection. Speech and action must be in harmony. This counts for everyone responsible.