Last year the UK Government began consulting on plans for the roll-out of smart meters across the country, with the aim of reducing domestic and commercial energy use. By 2020, these meters will replace all existing electricity and gas meters, providing a means of automatically recording and communicating energy consumption data to the energy supplier.
About 50% of the country’s electricity demand is currently based on meter readings which are taken, on average, every six months – but these readings provide no information about how the electricity is being used, i.e. the times of days. However, the data that the smart meters can provide has the potential to transform the way in which the electricity system as a whole operates, serves its customers and invests in new infrastructure. The electricity industry is reliant on balancing electricity generation and demand – and thus being able to predict peak-demand periods to avoid distribution network failures.
Information from smart meters could prove invaluable to the industry in allowing it to better understand peak demand, how that peak changes over time, what the daily demand is in half-hourly intervals and over a year, and what the changes in the levels and timing of demand are.
The Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) is leading project to extract, analyse and present this datain a way that can be done promptly and cost-effectively It is part-funded by the Technology Strategy Board through their ‘Harnessing Large and Diverse Sources of Data’ competition for research and development funding and in partnership between CSE, Western Power Distribution, Scottish and Southern Energy, and the University of Bristol and will run until the end of 2012.