Smart grids

Addressing key topics within smart grids.

Smart meter and energy efficiency rating for household







The IET’s policy work on smart grids is informed by the expertise of four IET Policy Panels: Energy, IT, Communications, and Transport. The IET’s multidisciplinary scope makes it particularly well placed to advise on the complex issues involved in the development of smart grids. 

Smart grids

  • A smart grid is defined as an electricity network that can intelligently integrate the actions of all users connected to it - generators, consumers and those that do both - in order to efficiently deliver sustainable, economic and secure electricity supplies.
  • There is no single way of implementing ‘smart grids’ but common themes are emerging internationally. There is significant opportunity to make wide use of fast communications, advanced materials and power electronics devices. Ideas to use these techniques are being developed and include, for example, better use of existing assets by means of ‘dynamic line rating’, intelligent controls to intercept faults and minimise the number of customers affected, and new control systems that enable distributed generation to be connected without the ‘reverse power flows’ causing problems with system voltages.
  • Today’s networks are technically not able to accept high penetrations of distributed generation because they are designed for one-way flows only. New technologies have huge potential but they need to be brought forward from the lab to real networks. Demonstration projects are key to progress.
  • The IET welcomes Ofgem’s commitment to fund network innovation leading to smart grids and also the inclusion of a requirement for innovation more generally as a pillar of the new RIIO price control framework. The IET notes the growing clarity of the GB vision for smart grids and the leadership being provided by the Smart Grid Forum, jointly chaired by the Regulator and Government. The projects now being implemented in Britain compare well with developments elsewhere in the world, and in some regards are leading edge. We note however the considerable risks and barriers that can be identified in this area, including the need for active consumer engagement in demand response, the challenges of developing community energy schemes, and the hazard that institutional barriers may prevent successful demonstration projects becoming 'Business as Usual' in the network companies. Smart grids will be a necessary part of an energy system with significant amounts of wind power and are also essential should electric vehicles be adopted on a large scale. High priorities now are the continuing refinement of the vision, the encouragement of practical experience and learning, and a drive for commercial scale realisation.
  • The IET strongly recommends the work of the DECC/Ofgem Smart Grid Forum. Three members of the IET’s Energy Policy Panel are active members of the Forum.

What is a smart grid? (briefing document)

Shetland Northern Isles New Energy Solutions (NINES) Project (submission to OFGEM)

The Future of the UK Electricity Networks (submission to Energy and Climate Change Committee)

How will smart grids become business as usual? (keynote presentation by John Scott at IET Smart Grid 2012)

IET smart grid wider pictures

  • The aim of the IET Smart Grid Wider Pictures is to provide a tool for discussion between the different disciplines and communities involved in the development of smart grid. It is quoted in the report of the Smart Grid Forum Workstream 3 “The Ideal Network”. This is work in progress hopefully leading to an emerging consensus on the scope of smart grid in the context of a low carbon energy future. 

Smart Grid Wider Picture (briefing document)

John Scott presents the IET Smart Grid Wider Picture (interview on IET TV)

Smart metering

  • The IET supports the deployment of smart meters as enablers of change in the UK energy sector. Smart meters are an important part of the IET’s vision for more flexible and efficient energy supply infrastructures, particularly for electricity. As such the deployment programme for smart meters must be designed and implemented as part of a wider plan for smart energy grids.
  • It must be appreciated that the smart meter itself is the tip of the iceberg. It will need a major supporting infrastructure to allow data to be collected, aggregated, distributed and used, and to enable decisions made on this data to be implemented. Delivering such infrastructure will be a major business change project that will require significant investment, and attention to the detail of project definition and management.
  • A further aspect requiring substantial attention is that of data security. The data will be used by multiple users: customers, energy suppliers, network operators and others, and both data security and integrity will be at risk unless appropriately robust and resilient systems are provided and a systems engineering approach is adopted.
  • Smart metering hardware and software will continue to develop at a fast pace through innovations in Europe, the USA and elsewhere. It is essential therefore that systems developed for the UK are not only compatible with global developments and but also that they are flexible to future changes. Equipment installed towards the end of the planned roll out is likely to have substantially enhanced functionality compared to what it available today.
  • None of this complexity is an argument for delay. The climate change challenge is too urgent for that.  Instead we need to move forward rapidly with pilot schemes and trials, and learn from these experiences whilst continuing to develop robust systems for major roll out. At the same time, a strong public engagement programme will be vital to involve users in getting the best from this substantial investment.

Smart Meter Roll-out (submission to Energy and Environment Select Committee)

Smart Metering Specification second version - SMETS 2 (submission to DECC)

Smart Metering Policy Design of DCC (submission to DECC)

Smart Metering Data Access and Privacy (submission to DECC)

Smart Metering Prospectus Part 1 (submission to DECC)

Smart Metering Prospectus Part 2 (submission to DECC)

Smart Metering Submission (submission to OFGEM)

Smart Metering for Electricity and Gas (submission to DECC)