Thursday, 29 July 2010

UK Government publishes a prospectus for its smart meter implementation programme

As I mentioned yesterday, along with its Annual Energy Statement the UK Government has published a prospectus for Smart Meters. Jointly produced by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and Ofgem (the UK’s electricity and gas market regulator), the ‘Smart Metering Implementation Programme – Prospectus’ can be found here.

As the prospectus points out, this is a huge programme, involving visits to 27 million homes and significant changes to the industry. Predicted benefits across the domestic and smaller non-domestic sectors are expected to be £17.8bn over the next twenty years and a net benefit of £7.2bn, mostly from reductions in energy consumption and cost savings in industry processes.

The document sets out proposals for how smart metering will be delivered, including design requirements, central communications, data management and the approach to rollout. Much of this is in the associated documents, including an updated impact assessments from DECC.

A key proposal is that within a home or business the smart meter installation will comprise smart meters for gas and electricity, a home area network to communicate between devices, and 'wide area network' equipment for communicating back to the supplier. Suppliers will also need to provide an in-home display of near real-time energy consumption information for consumers.

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Full details are in the associated Statement of Design Requirements, which covers:

• A high-level list of requirements and functionalities. One aspect is the government’s view that a gas valve should be included in domestic meters that will enable remote enablement and disablement of supply.

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• A proposal for the minimum information that should be displayed on the in-home display unit

• The need for open standards in the home area network.

• The proposal for the creation of a new central body to identify the most cost-effective solutions for smart metering data management and communications. ‘Given that communications technology is continuing to evolve we believe the wide area network communications module should be upgradable without the need for the meter to be exchanged.’

The document makes lots of detailed proposals on the design and delivery of a smart metering system - at this stage they are for consultation. Time is short to respond, though. Feedback on some of the key points is due by 28th September, with responses on the remaining, more detailed, aspects due by October 28th.  Full details are in the Prospectus.

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