Smart grids can save customers money, delivering for jobs and the economy

For immediate release - Monday 16 September 2013

Speaking at the Energy Networks Association fringe event at the Liberal Democrat Party Conference in Glasgow, Parliamentary Private Secretary to Ed Davey, Stephen Gilbert MP highlighted the jobs and economic boost from smart grids. He also spoke about the potential for smart grids to deliver on security of supply, sustainability and affordability for customers.

Stephen advocated not only the energy benefits of smart grid development but the potential 9,000 jobs created and £5bn economic boost from exports:

“Smarter networks enable new technology that will help keep costs down, defer network reinforcement and help reduce carbon. That is good in and of itself, but it is delivering cutting edge technology through the investment in jobs and the economy in the UK.”

In response to questions from party members on the cost effectiveness of smart grids, Stephen said:

“Cost is precisely the reason we need smart grids. Why would you take the dumb investment choice when you can take the smart option that provides long term benefits?”

Jim Sutherland, Engineering Director at ScottishPower Energy Networks, explained that the way we generate and distribute energy is changing as well as new customer behaviour and that a smarter grid was needed:

“A smarter grid is already evolving to deliver a better service to consumers so this isn’t just about a low carbon future, it is also about being more efficient and effective too. For example, in recent years we have added a significant amount of automation technology to our networks, which is helping to improve performance. Our plans for the next price control period will continue this trend as well as facilitating the connection of low carbon technology.”

When questioned about data privacy and consumer trust, Jim said:

“This is both an issue for secure technology and the right policies to ensure only legitimate parties have access to consumption data. We are doing a lot of work on these areas but it is also about consumer trust and an explanation of the benefits to customers.”

Dr Hongjian Sun, a lecturer in Smart Grids at Durham University, explained the peaks of energy consumption in the morning and evening and the need to smooth the load curve through a smart grid to avoid expensive investment to simply meet demand with more generation:

“The motivation for a smart grid is clear – if you just build generation to meet the peaks of demand you spend a lot more than if you invest in a smart grid that builds an active link between consumption and generation.”

“A smart grid can help maximise renewables by deploying storage and will make effective use of the data from smart meters, but it will need consumer engagement to succeed.”

Summing up, Stephen Gilbert MP stated:

“The next 70 years will look nothing like the last 70 years of energy policy and I hope that consumers will be increasingly engaged in the energy they consume and where it comes from. A smart grid will play a key role in delivering this.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

ENA is the voice of the networks representing the ‘wires and pipes’ transmission and distribution network operators for gas and electricity in the UK and Ireland.

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Tim Field MCIPR,
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Energy Networks Association
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