5 experts reveal why this one piece of new technology is the key to our future energy grid

Renewable Energy
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Smart meters are a core part of a huge upgrade to our outdated energy system, which is happening right now.

They will form part of a smarter grid – a digital energy system which will be able to cope better with the energy demands of modern life.

Thanks to the data collected by smart meters, electricity distributors will have more accurate figures on Britain’s energy use, and in turn will be able to better match energy supply with demand.

This new digital grid will allow our country to make the most of sustainable energy sources, like wind and solar, to help us meet the tough 80% carbon reduction targets we need to reach if we want to tackle climate change.

Smart meters will form part of the smarter grid

We asked the Smart Champions why they back the smart meter rollout…

The Climate Change Expert

Who: Dr Jeff Hardy, Senior
 Research Fellow at the Grantham Institute (Climate Change and the Environment) at Imperial College London.


Why: Dr Hardy started out as a sustainability scientist and was head of sustainable energy futures at Ofgem, the gas and electricity markets regulator. He’s now an academic expert, advising businesses and governments on sustainable energy. “I spent 11 years researching how to replace fossil fuels with renewable, sustainable resources. I’ve spent the last 14 years working out to do the same for sustainable energy, which is key for our future.”

He says: “Smart meters allow people in homes and businesses to better understand their own energy use. This means they can link what they are doing with the energy that is required to do it.

“The most interesting and useful potential of smart meters is that they provide near real time data on how much and where energy is being used across the whole system.

“As we move towards a low carbon energy system, which will have more variable output, depending on whether the wind is blowing, or the sun is shining, the system will be more efficient if it can match demand to available supply. It is crucial that we find ways to help consumers to adapt their behaviour.

“So, for example, smart meter data will show when it is a good (and low carbon) time to charge your electric vehicle – for example at times when the wind is blowing strongly. This also creates an opportunity for innovative businesses to deliver valuable energy services, in tune with their consumers’ needs.”

The Data Expert

Who: Dr Carl Chalmers is a senior lecturer at the School of Computer Science at Liverpool John Moores University.

Why: He is at the forefront of developments in how smart meter data could transform the way we care for patients in the NHS. He’s currently researching how information from smart meters could be used to help support people with dementia who are living alone at home.

He says: “My research area focuses on intelligent health care. We work with real dementia patients who are being cared for by the Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust to determine if everyday appliances could be used to help staff and family members monitor patients at home.”

“Smart meters give us near real time data, which helps us build an accurate understanding of a person’s routine behaviour. This would allow the Trust to get the right social support for patients, and improve health outcomes for them. We’ve just completed our first clinical trial for Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust with a broader study planned in 2019.

“For example, with their permission, smart meter data might show when they would normally cook themselves a meal or when they might have a shower.

“If staff start to see a change in these behaviours, they could take steps to make sure the patient is coping.”

Sustainable Cities Expert

Who: Dr Stephen Hall is a lecturer and research fellow at Leeds University and a leader of their Sustainable Cities program. He’s also a research fellow of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Why: Dr Hall’s research explores how we can develop our cities in more sustainable ways. He is a leader in thinking about how smart grids, low carbon innovation, energy and climate change will impact the way we live in the future and his work has influenced government energy policy.

He says: “There is huge potential to link electric vehicles, local energy systems and personal mobility in the city. By doing so we can improve air quality, tackle climate change, and create new business opportunities.

“Smart grid technology is the future of our cities and smart meters and smart energy use is the future of how we use energy, not just in our homes but in businesses too.

“Our cities are getting bigger and need more and more energy. We desperately need to update our energy system if our cities are going to be places where we can live, with clean air and reliable energy when we need it.

“There’s no way we can pursue a 21st century energy system, which is what we need, within a sensible cost framework without getting smart about how we use energy at home – and that means smart meters as they are the gateway.”

The Housing Energy Expert

Who: Dr Richard Fitton is a lecturer in energy efficiency at the globally renowned School of the Built Environment at the University of Salford, Manchester.

Why: Dr Fitton and his team have just launched the UK’s first smart meter research facility, which is aiming to help us all make our homes greener. He specialises in measuring heat loss from homes and advises government on making our buildings more efficient.

He says: “Our just-launched Smart Meters, Smart Homes laboratory will enable research and innovation around smart meters and to demonstrate the more innovative use cases. It will also supply government, industry and consumers with data and advice on smart meters.

“Our team of building physicists and engineers are exploring how smart meters best work in tandem with the growing array of home technology, such as energy storage devices, electric vehicle chargers, smart speakers, sensors and wearable technology.

“The smart meter infrastructure presents an opportunity to develop innovations that could change the way we consume, produce and store energy.”

The Consumer Champion

Who: Matthew Lipson is Head of Consumer Insight at the Energy Systems Catapult, an independent body bringing industry, academia and the government together to help the energy sector apply innovations that could help consumers.

Why: Having worked in the energy sector for over 10 years Matthew is committed to working towards user-friendly changes that will help us all achieve greener energy future.

He says: “The desire to make technology consumer-centric and people-focused is at the heart of my work. My emphasis is on delivering what people actually want, rather than being too obsessed about the means by which we deliver it.

“There is some really innovative work happening, that could help customers get a better deal and have a better experience when buying their energy.

“To make the most of these innovations, we need data on how people are really using energy, and that comes from smart meters.”

Smart Energy GB is the government backed organisation tasked with informing Great Britain about the benefits of the smart meter rollout

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