In Parliament >> Smart decision or expensive error?

13th May 2013


Related Topics

Related tags

  • Construction ,
  • Management/saving ,
  • Energy

Author

IEMA

Alan Whitehead, Labour MP for Southampton Test, questions the value of the UK smart meter rollout

The government has now completed most of the specifications and detailed design for smart meters, which will be installed in homes from 2014. So is it all systems go? I’m not sure it is.

Smart meters will provide useful real time data for energy supply and balancing, but will they also be useful for consumers in terms of planning their own energy use?

There is no sign yet of an information campaign similar to that which accompanied the recent switch from analogue to digital TV. It will certainly be needed as the rollout gets under way if householders are to use the meters effectively to manage their energy consumption.

There are also areas of the specifications for smart meters that ought to give pause for further thought.

The home area networks (HANs) specified into each smart meter are the equivalent of home hubs in the meter, and will connect to a range of household computer-driven hardware, as well as the home’s energy function. Not only that, they will, as specified, possibly limit what can be done with the energy function of the meter in the future.

In the US, where the technology has been included in meters installed in California and elsewhere, HANs have not been universally activated by energy companies, suggesting that there may be a problem.

There is also evidence, from the US that people simply do not use the home display units as envisaged, so energy savings are negligible. It might be better instead to invest in technologies that demonstrably do produce savings, such as putting thermostats in the seven million homes in the UK that do not have them.

If modifications are not made we might, by 2019 when the rollout of smart meters is expected to be complete, have installed at some expense, an over-engineered system that we will only be able to partly use.


Transform articles

National climate plans could see fossil fuel demand peak by 2025

Demand for fossil fuels will peak by 2025 if all national net-zero pledges are implemented in full and on time, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has forecast.

15th October 2021

Read more

The Green Homes Grant is set to deliver only a fraction of the jobs and improvements intended, leading to calls for more involvement from local authorities in future schemes.

23rd September 2021

Read more

COVID-19 recovery packages have largely focused on protecting, rather than transforming, existing industries, and have been a “lost opportunity” for speeding up the global energy transition.

23rd September 2021

Read more

Half of the world's 40 largest listed oil and gas companies will have to slash their production by at least 50% by the 2030s to align with the goals of the Paris Agreement, new analysis has found.

9th September 2021

Read more

None of England’s water and sewerage companies achieved all environmental expectations for the period 2015 to 2020, the Environment Agency has revealed. These targets included the reduction of total pollution incidents by at least one-third compared with 2012, and for incident self-reporting to be at least 75%.

30th July 2021

Read more

The UK’s pipeline for renewable energy projects could mitigate 90% of job losses caused by COVID-19 and help deliver the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda. That is according to a recent report from consultancy EY-Parthenon, which outlines how the UK’s £108bn “visible pipeline” of investible renewable energy projects could create 625,000 jobs.

30th July 2021

Read more

Billions of people worldwide have been unable to access safe drinking water and sanitation in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a progress report from the World Health Organisation focusing on the UN’s sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 6) – to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030”.

30th July 2021

Read more

The oil and gas industry is set to burn through its allocated carbon budget 13 years early unless decisive action is taken immediately, new analysis has found.

22nd July 2021

Read more

The UK will no longer use unabated coal to generate electricity from October 2024, one year earlier than originally planned, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has announced.

2nd July 2021

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert