Thanks to all our speakers at Monday night's event. (You can find the podcast in "Downloads"). SMART grids is definitely at the more technical end of the scale for Green Monday. It is a topic beset with semantic problems around language (not least what is meant by a SMART grid), but they will play an enormous role in helping harness renewables, increasing distribution efficiencies and increasing end-user efficiencies. It is this vast reach that makes it strategically significant for many companies - some who have yet to see their role (and the inherent opportunity). For any sustainability leads it is essential that they have a breadth of knowledge and understand the wider picture - SMART grids included.
The timing of the event was perfect with both DECC and Ofgem publishing recent guidelines on their strategies to facilitate large scale pilots of SMART grids and more. Ofgem's news that they have a £500m new fund paves the way for large-scale trials of smart grids and other technology required in a low carbon economy. The idea being to give companies a proper incentive to experiment with the technologies and see the benefits in developing them further.
DECC's recent commitments includes putting SMART meters in every house by 2020, You can find more on DECC's plans around SMART metering (here), overall SMART grid strategy (here)and responses to their original consultation on SMART metering (here). There was also the Electricity Networks Strategy Group report. More to come from DECC new year - with a roadmap document finalised for January or February 2010 pointing out the obstacles and policy solutions they will pursue. The earmarking of £4.7bn and £15bn for onshore and offshore distribution respectively give you a feel for the scale of change ahead.
Simon Giles of Accenture conveyed their belief in governments commitment to the concept and resolve to test at scale. He mentioned their report with the World Economic Forum (WEF) on SMART grids. Simon also touched on the cultural challenges in engaging consumers and encouraging them to play their part.
Nigel Spooner of Logica painted a full picture of the way in which SMART grids would touch society. This laid bare some of the collaborative relationships that lie ahead and some of those cultural challenges that lie ahead. The network companies have to take a big role and they will need to work with suppliers, DNOs and TSOs.
Some of the the questions did get a little technical, but there are clearly some headaches ahead. The panellists seemed to agreed on the need for a suck it and see approach - the future pilots being a vital step in constructing models to roll out. For developed and crowded countries like the UK, the legacy issues create further complexity. However, the commitment is real and now is the time to fully understand your role and the implications for your business.
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