U.K. government calls for evidence on smart grids in delivering secure low carbon electricity


Ed Miliband, U.K.
Secretary of State
London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — August 18, 2009 – The United Kingdom government has issued a call for evidence on the potential of various measures including the smart grid in delivering secure, low carbon electricity.

In its low carbon transition plan released last month the government set out a comprehensive range of measures to reduce carbon emissions across a number of sectors (see Commitment to smart meters and future smart grid in U.K.). However, while the plan sets out a strategic role for government, the government says it must ensure that it can meet the challenges of ensuring security of supply during the decarbonization process. This will require, in particular, a supportive climate for timely investment in a diverse mix of low carbon technologies, and a market and regulatory framework that can adapt to the different characteristics of low carbon electricity generation technologies.

Thus the call for evidence considers the challenges for investment and electricity security of supply, both in the near term, for example due to power station closures, and those challenges arising from the transition to and adoption of a low carbon electricity system.  

The government says that the transition to a low carbon economy will lead to significant changes in electricity production and demand, with a move towards greater generation from low carbon sources such as renewables, nuclear and fossil fuel generation fitted with carbon capture and storage technology. This transformation of the electricity generation system will create new challenges in matching supply and demand and providing the infrastructure for delivering electricity.

As part of the call for evidence, the government wants to explore specifically how smart grids may be able to enhance security of supply. It is expected that smart grids will help to manage the risk of supply and demand imbalances at the local and regional levels. Suggestions and proposals about what technologies can be deployed to improve security of supply, and how networks can be equipped with devices and systems interacting with generation and consumers so as to maintain supply within frequency and voltage limits and ensure continuity of supply under a range of network conditions are welcomed.

The government also needs to understand any risks to security of supply that may be inherent within smart grid technologies, and how these risks can be managed. For example, smart grids will be reliant on complex communications systems and there will be a need to ensure these are robust and resilient. There will also be a need to operate communications systems that are secure from infiltration and interference

The government also calls for evidence on measures for smart demand, which is about reducing demand at times when electricity demand is very close to the amount of electricity supply available, and the barriers to expanding the role of smart demand.

For example, the introduction of smart meters could facilitate the implementation of smart demand by providing the necessary information required to enable incentive packages to be offered to encourage customers to change demand patterns. However, the timing of the implementation of smart demand measures that could be facilitated by the rollout of smart meters will be dependent on the time it takes to roll them out to a significant number of customers.

“Britain is on the cusp of a transformation in its use and sources of energy,” writes secretary of state Ed Miliband in the foreword to the call for evidence. “We need dynamic and competitive markets, but we also need to make sure the conditions are in place for the market to deliver. We need to look at the changes happening now, and beyond the next decade at the changes that are expected in the future.”

Responses to the call for evidence are required by October 28.