Smart grids

Addressing key topics within smart grids and smart metering.

Smart meter and energy efficiency rating for household







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

Also highly relevant is the work of the IET’s Power Network - PNJV expert group and the IET’s recommendation that an electricity System Architect role is required to address the developing challenges and complexity which the electricity network is facing.

Smart grids

Smart grid techniques will be a necessary part of an energy system with significant amounts of wind power and will also be 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, a drive for commercial scale realisation, and the importance of whole-system end-to-end technical integration (the proposed System Architect role

  • 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 much wider use of data and 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 ‘reverse power flows’ causing problems with system voltages.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The IET is also collaborating with Innovate UK on the formation of the new Energy Systems Catapult which is due to be launched in 2015. This will work with industry to facilitate multi-vector thinking for smart cities and smarter energy.

What is a smart grid? (report)

Smart Grid Wider Picture (report)

Shetland Northern Isles New Energy Solutions (NINES) Project (2011 IET submission)

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

IET Smart Grids Wider Picture (interview with John Scott on IET.tv)

Smart metering

A set of consistent themes runs through all the IET’s submissions to DECC and Ofgem on smart metering.  These are summarised in the IET’s evidence on Smart Meter Roll-out to the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee of February 2013.

  • The IET supports the deployment of smart meters as part of a more flexible and efficient energy supply infrastructure, particularly for electricity. As such the deployment programme for smart meters must be designed and implemented as part of a wider plan for a smart energy grid.
  • 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.
  • The data could be used by multiple users to great advantage: 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. Robust end-to-end security needs to be designed in from the outset because security is a property of the system, not of the individual components.
  • Smart metering hardware and software will continue to develop at a fast pace through innovations in Europe, the USA and elsewhere. Systems developed for the UK need to be compatible with global developments and flexible to future changes. Equipment installed towards the end of the planned roll out is likely to have substantially enhanced functionality compared to what is available today.
  • We need to move forward with pilot schemes and trials, and learn from these experiences whilst continuing to develop robust systems for major roll out.  A geographical approach to roll out, coordinated with Distribution Network Operators, is necessary for trialling smart grid capabilities.
  • A strong public engagement programme will be vital to involve users in getting the best from this substantial investment.  To achieve energy efficiency and cost savings, consumers will need either to proactively manage their energy or alternatively there will be opportunities to cede control of some aspects of their energy use to automated systems or to third parties, perhaps in return for lower bills.

Smart meter system and equipment testing (2013 IET submission)

Smart Meter Roll-out (2013 IET submission)

Smart Metering Specification second version - SMETS 2 (2012 IET submission)

Smart Metering Policy Design of DCC (2011 IET submission)

Smart Metering Data Access and Privacy (2011 IET submission)