According to a new report from the IoT analyst firm Berg Insight, the installed base of smart gas meters in Europe amounted to 39-million units in 2020, equal to a penetration rate of 33%.

The installed base will continue to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 10,1%between 2020 and 2026, reaching 70,1-million units at the end of the period.

Annual shipment volumes amounted to 6,5-million in 2020 and are expected to stay at similar levels during 2021-2022 before gradually decreasing along with the completion of several large-scale nationwide rollouts.

Italy, France, the UK and the Netherlands were the most active markets in 2020, together accounting for more than 95% of all smart gas meter shipments during the year.

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, seen 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 169 MHz 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.

A change of the status quo might now however be on the horizon as new types of LPWA technologies have become more readily available in the past couple of years.

“2020 was a significant year for smart gas metering in Europe as the Italian gas sector became the first in Europe to initiate large-scale adoption of NB-IoT as a primary meter connectivity choice,” says Levi Ostling, senior analyst at Berg Insight.

Another emerging technology trend is 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”, concludes Ostling.