Prepayment Metering Report Ed 2 2007

From the NRG Expert Historical Energy Data Series

Prepayment Meter Deployments Prepayment meters (PPM) or electricity dispensers (ED) are available for electricity, gas and water. They are most frequently used for electricity supply, followed by gas and less often for water. There are approximately 20 million prepayment meters installed in the world. Usage is growing, both in numbers of countries and in the size of deployments.

Three countries, China, the United Kingdom and South Africa, account for 87% of the installed base of prepayment meters and a fourth, Turkey for a further 10%. No other country accounts for more than 0.3%. China has the largest number with 7 million electricity, gas and water prepayment meters, most of which are electricity.

The UK is the longest established user of prepayment meters, where they have been in use for almost a century and they account for 13% of all electricity and gas meters in use. South Africa has the highest proportion at 54% of all electricity meters in the country. This amounts to less than 1% of the total base of all meters in that country. In Turkey, prepayment meters account for 7% of the total.

Prepayment meters are used in about 50 other countries but the deployments are tiny and restricted to small cores of problem payers. They have been installed in tenement buildings and individually rented rooms, especially for a transient population such as students. The phrase “a shilling for the meter” became part of the lore of student life in Britain.

3.8 million of the PPMs in the UK are for electricity and 2.1 million for gas. The penetration of prepayment metering in the electricity sector is 15% and in gas 10%. Prepayment metering for water is illegal in the UK where it is considered a health hazard.

Prepayment metering in South Africa started in 1992 and was introduced in response to the political decision to expand electrification from its originally very small base. Before 1988, Eskom, the national electricity utility, and the fifth largest of its kind in the world, supplied electricity to large customers in industry and mining and to municipalities, which distributed power to end-users.

Eskom had only 120,000 customers, who were on billed accounts. In 1990 came a revolutionary change, “Electricity for All” saw Eskom embarking on a programme which lifted electrification from 33% in that year to 69% in 2003.

Eskom in the same period increased its customer base from 120,000 to 3.5 million. With 7.5 million customers and 4 million PPMs, South Africa has the highest penetration of prepayment metering in the world. Today South Africa is a world leader in developing prepayment meter technology, especially with applications in the developing world. Approximately 2 million PPMs have been installed in Turkey and the leading manufacturer, Elektromed, exports to a number of countries.

Large deployments are expected in two other countries; Azerbaijan has not used metering in the past but has announced its intention to install prepayment meters for all 1
million gas and 1.3 million electricity customers; France has used a small number in the past for problem payers and has announced a programme to install between 500,000 and 1 million prepayment meters.

Source:  NRG Expert

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