Understanding the Smart Grid
Smart meters are key to enabling our modern, digitalised, energy grid, unlocking a more sustainable and affordable way of running our national power networks, and opening up many new benefits for consumers.
Balancing supply with demand
Armed with better data from smart meters on the country’s energy use, network operators will be able to accurately track electricity demand and ensure generation is better prepared to match it, making for a more stable, efficient grid. And with less investment needed to fortify the grid, lower costs will be passed on to consumers.
Integration of renewable energy
By combining information on energy demand from smart meters with weather forecasts, grid operators will be able to better plan for the integration of intermittent renewable energy into the grid and balance their networks, helping us make the most from sustainable sources such as wind and solar, and decreasing our reliance on carbon..
Promoting EVs and smart appliances
The development of smart technology and the Home Area Network (HAN) will enable appliances to automatically switch on and off in response to demand and supply. For instance, electric vehicles (EVs) could be set to charge automatically when the sun is shining, or consumers could programme their washing machine or dishwasher to turn on or off depending on the level of demand and price of energy related to it.
Benefitting from ‘time-of-use’ tariffs
By letting energy suppliers know accurate, real-time measures of demand, smart meters are now helping introduce ‘time-of-use’ tariffs – notifying customers when supply is low (off-peak) or demand is high (peak) via visible price signals. Incentivising customers to use energy this way will not only allow us to save energy and momney, but also make better use of variable, greener sources of power.
Encouraging energy ‘prosumers’
Smart meters, working alongside connected devices, microgeneration and battery storage, will also open up the possibility for consumers who produce their own energy to have control over exactly when they use consume, when they store, and even when they export their energy to the grid for profit. A blockchain-based peer-to-peer trading system could even provide the option to sell any excess energy directly to our friends or neighbours.