08 March 2011
Energy metering experts gather in London today to ensure the UK is prepared for the nationwide roll out of smart meters, due to begin next year.
But the UK’s largest professional society of engineers is warning industry and government that smart meters will not be truly intelligent until they are connected to a smart grid. The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is concerned that consumers could be misled unless it is made very clear to them that a new meter will only deliver substantial benefits if planned as part of an overall smart grid. Only then will smart meters allow electricity demand to play an active role in the wider system by enabling demand to balance with supply.
IET spokesman Professor Simon Harrison said: “This is a timely event. Key decisions are being taken by government in coming months, and industry will need to deliver a secure, workable and future-proof system on a very large scale, in an environment of rapid change. Getting all this right is not at all easy, but given the inevitable changes to energy supply and use in coming years it’s absolutely vital both for our future energy system and for the confidence of customers.”
If energy supply is to become low carbon, secure and still affordable, the UK needs to see radical changes to the energy system. Changes that accommodate increased use of renewables, more efficient use of energy, and potentially large increases in electricity demand for vehicle charging and heat pumps.
Consumer participation in this major change programme is essential. Creating understanding and trust between the industry and consumers is vital in order to address concerns over data privacy and to realise consumers’ desire for financial savings.
These are some of the issues being discussed at today’s conference. In its fourth successful year, the IET Smart Metering Conference brings together professionals from energy utility companies, the engineering world and academia, involved in smart metering across the UK and globally.