How smart meters can unlock innovation in 2020

Our latest blog looks at smart charging of electric vehicles, community decarbonisation projects, and schools using smart technology to visualise their energy use. Following our 2020 predictions we asked our colleague Aimee Betts-Charalambous, Smart Meter Innovation Lead at BEIS, about the exciting innovations smart meters at scale can unlock in 2020.

15.6 million smart and advanced meters[1] are already operating across Great Britain. With the DCC committed to the enrolment of first generation (SMETS1) meters and delivery of comms hub solutions for more challenging properties, 2020 will see ever increasing numbers of consumers reap the benefits of smart meters.

With smart metering infrastructure now operating at scale, we are seeing an uptick in innovative products and services brought to market. New offers go beyond the standard energy use and cost advice, with smart meters being utilised to deliver solutions such as smart electric vehicle charging, smart heating controls, solar export tariffs and improved energy performance certificates.

Decarbonising heat is a key priority for Government. Smart meters are part of the solution, with companies using new dynamic time-of-use tariffs and near-real time data to optimise technologies such as heat pumps and storage heaters. With intermittent renewables increasingly integrated into the system and wholesale prices dropping, instances of negative pricing are on the up. 2019 was the year we saw consumers up and down the country get paid for using electricity to heat their homes. Whats more, these benefits were not just limited to consumers who can afford to pay for new smart technologies, but also social housing tenants who are members of community energy schemes such as Energy Local.

Consumers with electric vehicles also stand to benefit. The ever-increasing trend towards connected devices means consumers can already manually schedule electric vehicle charging to take place during off-peak periods, but 2020 will see demonstration of how smart charging can be automated using smart meter load control functionality.[2] Enabling consumers to take advantage of more dynamic system pricing or participate in demand side response services.

It’s not only domestic consumers who will benefit, with small retail businesses, cafes and schools also primed to realise significant value. The Government’s Non-Domestic Smart Energy Innovation Competition[3] sees an £8.8 million investment in the development of new energy insight tools that include features which can visualise energy data, set savings targets and deliver tips on how to improve energy efficiency. In one instance, a primary school identified that it was heating during non-school hours. Enacting a small change to the timing of boiler controls cut annual gas costs by 35%.

As the smart meter rollout continues to ramp up in 2020, we’ll see even more households, schools and small businesses realise the benefits of a smarter energy system, with all the innovative products and services it will bring, including those that have yet to be invented.