Two chief executives at the heart of the smart meter roll-out, Angus Flett of the DCC and Dan Brooke of Smart Energy GB, reflect on a major milestone in the digitisation of Britain's energy system.
Since the start of 2020, the DCC secure network has tripled in size, from about 3.3m smart meters connected at that point to 10m today. All involved in the roll-out – not least the energy companies and distribution network operators – have worked incredibly hard to adjust working practices in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, to ensure the safety of their staff and their consumers.
Smart meters inform and enable a responsive, smart energy grid, allowing Britain to make the best possible use of renewable energy like wind and solar power. The energy revolution is gaining pace. From the Government’s Energy White Paper to Ofgem’s Decarbonisation Action Plan, the policy imperative is pointing in a clear direction. As a country we’re making important progress towards reducing our reliance on oil and gas; the take-up of technologies like smart meters and electric vehicles will be central to the effort to create a greener future.
The benefits of smart energy meters are becoming increasingly substantial and we’re working on harnessing their potential so people can live healthier and greener lives.
Recent research has started the debate on how smart meters could become a telehealth solution available to virtually every home in Britain within just a few years. With the consumer’s consent, energy usage patterns from smart meters have the potential make it easier and less stressful for family members who live apart to look after their relatives. This is just one example of the ways in which smart meters, and the secure network, can support innovation to deliver further public benefit.
A rapid transition to electric vehicles will also have an enormous positive effect on reducing Britain's carbon emissions (personal transport accounts for a third of all emissions) and must become a centrepiece to the nation's climate change efforts. The existing smart metering network could act as the secure infrastructure necessary to support EV charging nationally. If consumers are confident in a reliable, consistent charging system that doesn’t lock them into poor deals, they’ll be more likely to choose an EV.
For a world in which millions of EVs are on the move in Britain -- each one drawing down or offering back to the grid the amount of power used by an average household – we‘ll need a system that’s digital, secure, and enables the grid to manage load intelligently, smoothing massive spikes in consumption at peak times and ensuring the necessary reserves are available when power from intermittent renewable sources is sparse. Smart meters, and their network, can do that.
Monday’s milestone was a moment to pause, thank partners, and take stock of the huge progress that’s being made in the smart meter roll-out, and the accelerating pace at which it’s being delivered. Our target is 53m meters in homes and small businesses, so there’s still a big job to do; but, with our partners across the energy and technology sectors, we’re going to get there.
Smart meters and the secure smart network must play a critical role if we’re serious about meeting our climate change ambitions and bequeathing a cleaner world to future generations.
CEO at the DCC
CEO at SEGB