UK rediscovers what the US already knows about the smart grid

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Quick Take:  A new report from a British think tank delivers a variety of recommendations for the UK's pending smart meter rollout. For the most part, they repeat the lessons learned over the past eight years in the United States.

 

Even if the report isn't very original, it does make valid points -- points that some US utilities may want to revisit if they have still not embarked on smart metering. The release below gives a quick summary, or download the full report. – Jesse Berst

 

Smart Grids to revolutionize energy use but benefits could bypass consumers, warns new UKERC report

 

A new report by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) explores the emerging role of smart grids in the UK and presents a vision of the near future where energy use is monitored in real time, home appliances are automated, and Britain is powered by a network of community run energy schemes.

 

Findings from the research show that there is a real appetite for change, both from industry and the public, but the benefits of smart grids need to be clearly communicated and shared. Key challenges must be overcome in preparing for the ‘smart’ revolution – such as low levels of public understanding of smart grids, misuse of data and concerns over energy suppliers remotely controlling home appliances, as well as more fundamental difficulties in predicting how smart grids will develop over time.

Smart meters which can monitor and control energy usage at domestic level are widely seen by experts as being an important part of smart grid development. However, a lack of strong data protection and privacy measures (cited by 60%), as well as consumer apprehension about sharing energy data (cited by 49%), were seen by the public as the biggest barriers to future UK smart grid development.

 

There was also concern that those on lower incomes would not be able to afford smart appliances and that vulnerable people could be taken advantage of by companies, or miss out on potential benefits. Ensuring that the benefits of smart grids flow to consumers will play a key role in encouraging householders’ participation. The report also highlights the critical need for a long-term, cross-sector policy vision for smart grids, which is likely to significantly enhance investor confidence.

 

About the UK Energy Research Centre

The UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC), which is funded by Research Councils UK, carries out world-class research into sustainable future energy systems. It is the hub of UK energy research and the gateway between the UK and the international energy research communities. Our interdisciplinary, whole-systems research informs UK policy development and research strategy.

 

Jesse Berst is the founder and Chief Analyst of SGN and Chairman of the Smart Cities Council, an industry coalition.

 

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