Smart metering in South Africa is increasing as municipalities start rolling out smart-grid technology according to Accenture SA's executive director Lungile Mginqi.
Smart-grid technology is seen as a way to curb electricity losses from inefficient transmission and distribution and help local authorities monitor and control electricity supplied to the national grid from independent power suppliers.
Mginqi adds that the smart meters could reduce billing problems and encourage energy efficiency.
A smart grid gathers and responds to information about the behaviour of suppliers and consumers and is meant to improve efficiency, reliability, economics and sustainability of the distribution of electricity.
"When it comes to introducing new capacity, the smart grid offers technologies that promote integration of renewable energy sources to the national grid," he said.
"In terms of maintaining existing infrastructure, the smart grid offers technologies to monitor sub-stations and transformers and may help extend the life of these installations.
"Moreover, smart meters make it easy for consumers to control consumption, make billing more accurate as there are no estimations," he added.
Mginqi concedes that the smart grid technology has been delayed by financial challenges, incentives and the need to balance priorities between new technology and aging infrastructure.
"These technologies are rapidly penetrating the electricity market in North America and Western Europe," Mr Mginqi said. "However, the uptake locally has been slow as utilities hold back on expenditure."
He said SA was balancing a number of competing factors such as introducing new generating capacity, maintaining aging infrastructure to prevent power-supply interruptions, reducing residential demand and improving revenue collection.
Eskom said last month it loses about R1,2-billion a year to theft and "transmission losses despite the fact that two years ago, it launched Operation Khanyisa, a countrywide programme to curb electricity theft.
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