Nothing for nothing …

jonathan spencer

Over the past year steeply rising oil prices against a background of continually growing demand have brought into stark relief the costs of energy for the end user and the needs for energy efficiency and secure, sustainable supply.

At the same time whereas a year ago the talk was about smart meters, there has been a shift in focus – as smart metering has become better understood and driven largely by legislation, such as the Energy Independence and Security Act in the US, in addition to the environmental factors – to the smart grid as well as to home area networking of the many electric and electronic appliances and devices found in the 21st century home. Both of these are seen as playing key roles in the future in improving energy management and ultimately contributing to the achievement of environmental goals, even if they are not directly phrased as such.

But when it comes to environmental issues deeper consideration is needed than is perhaps apparent at first sight, because it is a simple fact of life that one does not get something for nothing. For example the drive for environmentally friendly biofuels is taking food off tables, and according to a speaker at Metering America 2008 in theory at least future power generation could require water equivalent to most if not all the world’s water resources. The development of smart grids opens the way for widespread use of hybrid electric vehicles but what about the extra load that will be required for charging these? And if for example everyone were to plug in their vehicles to charge overnight what would be the impact on generation costs during the traditionally lower cost period and potentially on time-of-use tariffs? Hopefully some of the exciting new projects that are being started – and on which we report in this issue – will shed further light on such issues.

Smart Energy International’s series of smart metering events continues with Smart Metering Midwest in Chicago, IL, in June and Smart Metering West Coast in Seattle, WA, in August, while in July the new series of smart grid events starts with Smart Grids Africa in Johannesburg, South Africa. These are focussed events aimed at providing strategic insight and direction into smart metering and smart grids in specific regions and we are delighted to be able to contribute in this way to these important industry developments.

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Jonathan Spencer Jones