Cornwall Insight has argued in its latest research paper that smart meters are set to play a vitally important role in securing energy security in the UK.
Stated within its Energy Security and Smart Meters paper, the firm indicates that the use of smart meters, which are capable of providing near-real-time information via a visual in-home display, could help customers shift energy consumption away from peak periods. This lowers overall consumption and in turn could open decarbonisation opportunities.
The UK is dependent on gas imports to maintain electric operations across the UK which in turns bumps up the price of energy. By installing smart meters to reduce the peak usage in traditionally high consumption periods, usually between 4pm and 7pm, the UK would be able to reduce the cost of wholesale electricity.
This could be a crucial development. Reducing the demand for imported gas and electricity could lower the need to operate some of the country’s most carbon-intensive generating stations, helping to boost prospective decarbonisation aspirations and reduce the UK’s carbon footprint.
“Smart meters have the potential to play a critical role in energy security, empowering consumers to change how much energy they use and when they use it. If consumers reduce or shift their energy consumption away from peak periods, they may be able to save money, facilitate additional renewable generation and reduce reliance on imported energy,” said Anna Moss, senior consultant at Cornwall Insight.
“Smart meters enable households to participate in schemes such as National Grid Energy System Operator’s Demand Flexibility Service, which allows the system operator to manage energy security during winter when demand is high by rewarding households and businesses for voluntarily flexing the time, they use electricity at.”
2022 saw a great increase in smart meter installations with almost two million smart meters having been installed, while the one million mark was achieved in June 2022. Since the programme started in 2012 19.3 million smart meters have been installed in the UK.
The regions with the highest installation figures for October 2022 were East England (31,000), Southern England (24,000) and the East Midlands (21,000), the regions that typically have the highest monthly installations, according to ElectraLink.
“This report explains the key role played by smart meters in supporting Great Britain’s energy security. Our exposure to volatile global gas prices underscores the importance of making the most of cleaner, greener, homegrown energy. It also highlights the importance of being more flexible in the way that we use energy, to reduce waste in the system and flatten peaks in demand,” said Fflur Lawton, head of policy and public affairs at Smart Energy GB.
“Smart meters make this possible, by providing near-real-time information that helps create a more responsive and efficient energy system. Over half of Great Britain’s homes and small businesses now have a smart meter, which put people in greater control of their energy use. This can help people to not only save money on their bills, but also help the country to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and imported gas.”