The Circular Smart Meter: sustainable innovation by Enel

The Circular Smart Meter: sustainable innovation by Enel

In 2001 it revolutionized the Italian electricity grid, in 2016 it became the heart of the grids of the future, and now the smart meter is a shining example of the circular economy: produced from 100% regenerated plastic, it is a product of the sustainable innovation that guides the Group in its search for increasingly green solutions.


In 2001, the smart meter began to be installed in homes and buildings across Italy, the first country to do so before it was rolled out across the European Union and beyond. This digital device has started to replace the traditional mechanical electricity meter commonly associated with consumer use.

The smart meter not only measures energy consumption, though: its version 2.0, the Open Meter, which has been in distribution since 2017, is also a tool that makes energy consumption more sustainable, making it possible to balance the electricity supply-demand curve. It is one of the essential tools with which we’ll build truly smart and circular cities.

This latest generation meter enables customers to access their own consumption data more easily, increasing awareness of their energy use habits and encouraging behaviors that are more efficient and sustainable. It also enables personalized electricity rates that are better suited to different consumer habits, with dynamic and highly flexible pricing. A new technology called “Chain 2” also makes it possible to integrate energy consumption monitoring with smart home management systems for electrical appliances, boilers, air conditioners and lights that can be programmed to turn on and off automatically. Finally, this device facilitates real time monitoring of self-produced energy from users’ own distributed generation systems, like photovoltaics, and enables homes to access the services necessary for the use of electric cars.


A future-proof meter

At Enel, sustainable innovation never stops. In 2020, production began on a new Circular Smart Meter made of recycled plastic. In Italy, 370,000 have already been manufactured and it is estimated that production will reach 8.2 million by 2026.


 “At the beginning of the 2000s, Enel launched the massive roll-out of first-generation smart meters in Italy. In just a few years, the benefits to both the company and customers were so clear that soon smart metering systems became obligatory for all the other national distribution companies. Our meters are made of 100% recycled plastic originating from replaced smart meters, using a circular approach and helping to make our grids more sustainable.”
Antonio Cammisecra, Head of Global Infrastructure and Networks at Enel


The Circular Smart Meter is the result of six months of laboratory testing that has led to the production of a completely regenerated plastic, and is just one of the ways Enel is contributing to the circular economy and sustainability. Some time ago the Group began to rethink its production and consumption models in order to minimize its environmental impact and consumption of resources. The goal is to use renewable energy sources and materials; extend product lifespans; create platforms for sharing, reuse and regeneration; and also rethink products as services. The circular economy is an important part of the strategy of global decarbonization to achieve our goal of net zero emissions.

By adopting innovative solutions intended to minimize the impact on the environment, limit the use of virgin materials and the production of waste, and maximize socio-economic benefits at the local level, we were able to apply a circular economy perspective as we reviewed the smart meter value chain, from the design phase through to end of life. Each Circular Smart Meter results in a savings of 7 kg of CO2 over the course of its useful life (15 years) and 1.1 kg of virgin material; in addition, they help create a local production chain of “secondary” raw materials. The environmental benefits linked to the production of the new Open Meter made using regenerated plastic are measured using the Life Cycle Assessment method, which is recognized internationally in scientific circles.

It is also thanks to the Circular Smart Meter that Enel continues to feature on the leading sustainability indices of corporate sustainability, such as the FTSE4Good Index Series, which ranks the businesses leading the world in terms of environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices and transparency.

Since September 2021, the commercialization of the Open Meter has been entrusted to Gridspertise, the new company controlled by Enel through Global Infrastructure and Networks, which promotes the best grid technologies designed by the Group to distribution operators all over the world.

This is a mission with far-sighted goals: to develop new solutions to transform the electricity distribution grids into smart grids that are increasingly resilient, sustainable and participatory in order to accelerate the energy transition.