Menu

Login to access your account

Wed, 21 October 2020

Personalise Your Politics

Subscribe now
The House Live All
Winter is coming and with it stark choices about tackling homelessness Partner content
Coronavirus
Inequality has widened - it’s time for action Partner content
Coronavirus
Coronavirus
Coronavirus
No more delays on animal welfare Partner content
By League Against Cruel Sports
Coronavirus
Press releases

How the Covid-19 crisis has offered a glimpse into the future of energy

How the Covid-19 crisis has offered a glimpse into the future of energy

Smart meters will help the energy system better manage and shift energy usage away from traditional peak times – which are currently most reliant on fossil fuel energy, says Robert Cheeseman | Credit: PA Images

Robert Cheesewright, Director of Corporate Affairs | Smart Energy GB

3 min read Partner content

The Covid-19 crisis has given us a partial window into the high renewable energy future, but the truly green and cheap energy revolution, with smart meters at its heart, is just beginning.

On Wednesday 10 June, Britain hit a significant landmark going for two full months without burning coal to generate electricity – the longest period since the Industrial Revolution.

In a pre Covid-19 world, this announcement would have made headline news. 

Back in February, the Government announced plans to phase-out coal from Britain’s energy system by 2024.

However, the subsequent lockdown caused demand to fall by an unprecedented 15 per cent just two months later, catapulting Britain four years into the future.

One way this mirrors the future is that a number of customers have been able to benefit in the form of low and even negative energy prices – some customers with smart meters have even been paid to use excess renewable energy in recent weeks by their energy supplier.

Our electricity system operator has to match the supply of energy with demand on a second-by-second basis. With increasing low-carbon generation and changes in the way we are using energy, matching demand to supply is going to become even more challenging in the future.

The need for us all to use energy more flexibly is becoming acute, because rather than electricity demand dropping it is set to radically increase.

This will be caused by the move away from gas space heating and petrol and diesel-fuelled combustion engines. That means replacing gas with technologies such as heat pumps, which use significant amounts of electricity, and moving to electric vehicles.

According to National Grid, if electric vehicles are not charged smartly to avoid peaks in power demand, such as when people return home from work, peak demand could be as much as 8GW higher in 2030.

Luckily, the technology to create a more flexible, smart energy system already exists.

Smart meters will help the energy system better manage and shift energy usage away from traditional peak times – which are currently most reliant on fossil fuel energy.

By doing so, households will increasingly be financially rewarded for using up those green electrons when we need them to.

And whilst electric cars increase electricity demand, they are also a solution to the problem of unpredictable energy supply.

When green energy is cheap and abundant we can store that energy in car batteries and release it later, rather than using highcarbon electricity generated later on.

Better still, with the addition of vehicle-to-grid charging we will be able to sell energy back to the grid when demand, and therefore the price, is high.

As the smart meter rollout recommences, engineers should play a key role in tackling the wider issue of improving home energy efficiency.

There seems to be a broad consensus that Britain’s economic recovery plan should prioritise green growth. Investment in high-quality sustainable green jobs and the smart use of data should be central to any Covid-19 recovery stimulus.

The Covid-19 crisis has given us a partial window into the high renewable energy future, but the truly green and cheap energy revolution, with smart meters at its heart, is just beginning.

 

Smart Energy GB is the national consumer engagement body supporting the smart meter rollout.

If you would like further information please contact Liz.Harper@smartenergyGB.org

Categories

Coronavirus Energy
Podcast
Engineering a Better World

Can technology deliver a better society? In a new podcast series from the heart of Westminster, The House magazine and the IET discuss with parliamentarians and industry experts how technology and engineering can provide policy solutions to our changing world.

New episode - Listen now

Partner content
Connecting Communities

Connecting Communities is an initiative aimed at empowering and strengthening community ties across the UK. Launched in partnership with The National Lottery, it aims to promote dialogue and support Parliamentarians working to nurture a more connected society.

Find out more