“The only thing that is constant is change.” [Heraclitus, 500 BC]
Buzz words like “transformation and change” are often used, but I guess 2020 has shown that yet again necessity is the mother of innovation and with the right focus the world can change for the better. Just look at the amazing work to develop a vaccine in record-breaking time and society adapting to Covid with the forced change the pandemic placed on us all.
At the DCC, our staff adapted and continued to deliver, thanks to ingenuity and sheer hard work combined with support from our customers and partners.
Why? Because we believe in our purpose - to make Britain more connected so we can all lead smarter greener lives; and whilst Covid is the clear and present danger, the battle to decarbonise has not gone away.
In 2021 there’s a lot to look forward to...
Early this year we will pass the milestone of 10 million interoperable smart meters on the network, and the number will grow substantially in the months following.
Critical to unlocking growth will be the roll-out of Dual Band Comms Hubs and migrating the remaining cohorts of first-generation (SMETS1) meters. Dual Band Hubs will make a further 25% of premises eligible for connection to our network, and an acceleration in SMETS1 migrations will allow millions of consumers to take advantage of all the benefits a smart meter can bring.
The SMETS1 migration has been one of the most complex technological infrastructure programmes and, whilst it’s been challenging, it has also been fulfilling to overcome the barriers in retrofitting thousands of different technology variants onto the DCC network. Everyone involved should be proud of what has been achieved.
Building a resilient, secure network with a reach greater than superfast broadband or terrestrial TV goes hand in hand with operating at scale, and there is a constant imperative to keep improving. We will be doubling down on efforts to reduce downtime, minimising disruption to our customers’ operations. Last year we initiated procurement for our Network Evolution programme which this year will see the award of new contracts for the supply of 4G services and technology to ensure the DCC network evolves as technology improves.
As the number of smart meters connected grows throughout 2021, the DCC network will play an increasingly important role in the transformation of Britain’s energy system, enabling greater and easier consumer choice - saving them money and, critically, helping achieve the UK’s net zero target.
Whilst humanity is responsible for the climate crisis we’re facing, I firmly believe that technical know-how and endeavour (or, if you like, necessity) will help provide a solution.
We will shortly publish a discussion paper on the data the DCC carries, setting out how we could enable the data to be accessed easily for public good and innovation to combat climate change. Our approach is a maximisation strategy - enabling the maximum access to the widest possible range of data sets, allowing new ideas to grow from everywhere. The strategy we advocate would be based on a philosophy of “access at cost”. The DCC’s mission is to facilitate innovation and re-use to combat climate change and support activity for further benefit to society, so charging only at cost is the right strategy.
A key accelerant to drive decarbonisation will be the mass adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). But take-up will be low unless consumers are confident that they can charge their car easily and securely, wherever and whenever they want. So consumer choice is key. In 2021 we’ll be talking to the Government and working with industry to show that the DCC network can enable fast deployment of a nationwide charging infrastructure, providing a platform for innovation for the industry as well as ensuring the essential high standards of security and choice for the consumer.
2021 will see mass vaccination, economic recovery, and the increased focus on battling climate change, so there is a lot to be positive about.
I am looking forward to the COP26 UN climate change conference in Glasgow in November, which I hope will provide an incredibly important focal point to show the vital contribution smart energy can make to cutting carbon and achieving net zero by 2050 or sooner. The DCC and its secure national network will play a central role in achieving that goal.
2020 has shown that with the right focus society can overcome massive obstacles and achieve the most amazing things. As we win the battle on Covid, let’s also focus on, and win, the battle to decarbonise and save our planet.
Happy New Year to you all!
By Angus Flett, CEO