Commitment to smart meters and future smart grid in U.K.


Ed Miliband,
U.K. Energy &
Climate Change
London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — July 16, 2009 – As part of its plan to transition to a low carbon future the U.K. government has recommitted itself to rolling out smart meters in every home by the end of 2020 and also to developing a smart grid.

Noting that smart metering is one of the building blocks for creating a smart grid, the government says that later this year it will publish a high level vision for a future smart grid and subsequently a plan for delivering this.

The U.K. low carbon transition plan, which was released yesterday, is aimed at moving the nation onto a permanent low carbon footing, while maximizing the economic opportunities, growth and jobs. In particular it should deliver greenhouse gas emissions cuts of 18 percent on 2008 levels by 2020, towards the longer term target of an 80 percent emissions reduction on 1990 levels by 2050.

The plan White Paper sets out a comprehensive range of measures to reduce carbon emissions across a number of sectors, including the power sector, homes and communities, business and the workplace, transport, and agriculture.

Saying that currently three quarters of the country’s electricity is generated using coal and gas, the White Paper says that by 2050 more electricity than today may need to be produced but this must be done largely without emitting greenhouse gases. Thus the power system will need to be transformed so that electricity is generated from clean sources such as renewables, nuclear and fossil fuel plants fitted with carbon capture and storage technology.
In addition with three quarters of the energy used in U.K. homes for heating and water, by 2050 emissions from homes need to be almost zero by using energy more efficiently and using more low carbon energy.

The White Paper notes that smart meters are key to revolutionizing customer service and maximizing energy saving, and that the government has set out an indicative timetable for getting smart metering to all homes by the end of 2020. In addition, as an immediate step towards making available energy usage information to consumers, the government has decided to include in-home displays, which can be used with existing meters, amongst the range of measures that energy companies can offer their customers under the Carbon Emission Reduction Target. As a result, two to three million households are expected to get a new tool to help them take control of their emissions, and see exactly how much energy they are using in real time.

To build on this and to reward people for doing the right thing, as well as helping people take action together, the government says it will launch a new national energy saving challenge later in the year, with prizes and incentives for saving carbon.

In order to support the changes in the power sector, an electricity grid will be needed with larger capacity and the ability to manage greater fluctuations in electricity demand and supply, the White Paper says. The government, through its Electricity Networks Strategy Group (ENSG), has started considering what a U.K. smart grid might look like in practice. Possible key elements include improved information for electricity consumers, notably through smart meters; facilitating demand management; enabling individuals and businesses to sell electricity into the network as well as buying from it, through microgeneration and on-site technologies; enhanced monitoring and information flows for network operators; use of a range of technologies including advanced communications and information management systems, intelligent metering, demand side management, and storage; and more optimal usage of the whole network in meeting demand, which could limit the need for more reinforcement of the grid.

The ENSG’s study will consider the costs, benefits and issues to be addressed in developing a smart grid for the U.K. electricity system, including technology readiness, how such a system might develop, and the drivers and barriers at each stage. Following completion of this work later this year the government will publish a high level “vision” setting out what a U.K. smart grid might look like and why the government would want to develop it, and in the light of work on a 2050 energy roadmap next year, a “route map” for the delivery of this vision.

Commenting on the plan Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband says the transition to a low carbon economy will be one of the defining issues of the 21st century. “This plan sets out a route map for the UK’s transition from here to 2020.”