Investing in a smart grid sooner rather than later will benefit the UK, according to a report out last week commissioned by 23 leading companies as part of SmartGrid GB.
The report, Smart Grid: a race worth winning?, says it is clear that if the UK takes a global lead in smart grid development it will garner larger and more widespread benefits.
According to the analysis, while an estimated £46 billion needs to be spent between now and 2050 on upgrading the distribution networks, a smart grid could enable savings of as much as £19 billion. Even if only low levels of decarbonisation and electrification occur, the savings could still be as much as £10 billion.
Meanwhile, the sector has potential to give a £13 billion boost to the UK economy, create a £5 billion manufacturing and services export sector and support 8000-9000 jobs during the 2020s and 2030s.
But the UK needs to be “ambitious” in its smart grid plans and prioritise the necessary groundwork for accelerating the development of a smart grid.
“Some fresh thinking” is needed from the government, regulator and industry to overcome the challenges inherent in setting up a smart grid in the UK.
The report says there is a need for policy makers to provide the “maximum degree of policy guidance possible” and a greater focus on the regulatory process to protect customers. And there needs to be more and better engagement with consumers over the benefits of a smart grid and how smart meters play their part.
UK Energy Minister Charles Hendry has welcomed SmartGrid GB’s report, commenting:
“A smarter grid can help network companies better manage future demand fluctuations and peaks. With more information about how the network is being used, and more capability to control this use, network companies can divert power to where it is needed and away from constrained areas.”
He adds that there is a “compelling economic case” for the development of smart grids and “restated” the need for the UK to become a leader in the sector.
Arquiva, which is working with BT and Detica on a smart metering solution for the UK rollout, says the report also recognises the essential role of smart meters.
“The new Smart Grid GB report is a timely and robust contribution to the vital debate around Britain’s energy future. It shows that smart grids are a triple win solution – delivering more secure, sustainable, and affordable energy – the core goals of UK energy policy,” says Sean Weir, director of smart metering.
For further information:
Power networks “on a knife edge”, warns PwC (24-Apr)
UK energy regulator launches smart grid framework (23-Apr)
UK smart meter rollout to start in less than three years, says government (5-Apr)
Parliamentary committee warns of ‘uncertainties’ on smart meter rollout (17-Jan)
02 May 2012