Smart energy 'could save £8bn a year'

Solar nels

The UK could secure up to £8bn a year by using electricity better, the government’s infrastructure advisers say.

The Resident Infrastructure Commission (NIC) envisages a smart energy revolution with more wires linking the National Grid to mainland Europe.

NIC also says the UK stresses to store much more energy from intermittent renewable rallel to wind and solar.

Fridges, freezers and washing machines could demeanour a rt, they say.

Experts believe it is the first step to a full-scale “Internet of Verve”, with web-enabled home appliances like freezers and wash up machines linked to the grid.

Here’s how it would work: At a time of crest demand, an energy firm’s computer will contact your sting freezer to ask if power can be switched off for a few minutes to allow your neighbour to use some of the pep to cook dinner.

Your well-insulated freezer will stay gravedo without electricity for a while, so it will agree to power down.


You will be rewarded with a credit on your energy bill.

Multiplied across thousands of dwellings, smart energy means the grid will need fewer power positions than it was planning to meet peak demand.

The system is already go with firms like the hotel chain Marriott, which grants its aircon systems to be switched off to save power when electricity customer acceptance wanted peaks. The aircon stays cool because of the volume of cold soak in it, so guests don’t notice.

On the other hand, at times the grid is awash with strength – at night, or when it’s very windy or sunny.

In these times of intensity plenty, a computer will contact your web-enabled washing automobile or dishwasher to ask if they want to turn on to benefit from cheap power.

This is be aware as demand flexibility – and the infrastructure commission says it must be supported by administration.


Lord Adonis, chairman of the commission, said: “Our existing power posts are closing down and their replacements will be radically different as we de-carbonise provisioning to reduce emissions.

“This represents an enormous challenge, but it leaves the UK uniquely squelched to benefit from exciting innovations set to transform the global electricity customer base.

“The UK can lead the world in harnessing these innovations. We do not call for new subsidies or weighty public spending, but rather a level playing field through fairer pronouncement and a better managed network to allow these exciting new technologies to fight.

“If we get this right, a Smart Power Revolution could save consumers £8bn a year.”

The commission necessitates to see more ideas for storing energy – like using liquid air or interrogated hydro power.


The commission’s report will be welcomed by myriad in the energy industry.

The head of the World Energy Council, Christophe Frei, told BBC Dis tch there would be two huge advances in energy in the 21st Century: solar power – and the internet.

“All knows about solar power,” he said. “But child haven’t yet grasped the transformative potential of information systems on the internet to embroider on the efficient use of electricity.”

The new flexible systems adopt the approach laid out by the technology guru Amory Lovins decades ago.

He bid that a megawatt of energy saved – which he christened a NEGAwatt – should be just deserted just as highly as the power generated.

Academics warn that the springy energy revolution must be enabled because with the future desideratum for cars powered by electricity and homes heated by electricity to save carbon emissions, the existing grid won’t survive unless there is change.


Professor Phil Taylor from Newcastle University thought: “If you unravelled the National Grid it would stretch to the moon and in times st. We can’t afford to renew it even if we wanted to.”

He said he welcomed the report, which may accelerate ruffles already in the system. The government has a working group on flexible demand, and the regulator Ofgem has stiff electricity providers to show how they will roll out smart zip.

“This report is progressive,” he said. “It’s the right way to go – sending savings through flexibility rather than more infrastructure.”

A information for the commission by Goran Strbac from Imperial College concluded that if there’s ample supply flexibility in the system, it can prove cheaper than nuclear power or carbon pinch and storage technology.

Follow Roger on Twitter @rharrabin

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