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EcoReport Smart grids

February 2014

Like children, houses are getting cleverer… Pages 8-9

smart3r th1nk1ng How spending £12.1bn for 53,000,000 smart meters in 30,000,000 UK homes could save £18.8bn | Page 5

EcoReport · February 2014


2 Smart grids

Opening shots James Murray


t seems slightly unfair to refer to the UK’s power grids as dumb, given they are capable of matching electricity demand from millions of homes, offices and factories with supply from hundreds of power plants on a second-by-second basis. But compared with the next generation of smart grid technologies, dumb is precisely what they are. The UK’s power grids are on the brink of the biggest technological revolution since the first half of the 20th century – one that promises to cut energy bills, make our homes and offices more comfortable, and slash greenhouse gas emissions. The way we use energy is about to get a whole lot smarter. You may have already experienced the vanguard of this march into the mainstream in the form of the smart meters that several of the Big Six energy companies are now offering customers. According to a recent government survey, around 12 per cent of people now have smart meters installed and

Say goodbye to the dumb grid as the UK’s power systems get smartened up are able to monitor the power they use in real time. Trials have shown the meters encourage people to stop wasting energy, while the digitisation of energy meters has drastically improved the accuracy of energy billing and removed the need for meter-readers to trek countless miles in pursuit of unread meters hidden in cupboards under the stairs. But smart meters are to the smart grid as gas lamps are to the modern streetlight – they are just the first step in a major technological transition. The most advanced smart meters are already integrated with building control systems so you can turn the heating and lights in your home on and off remotely using your mobile. Going to be late home from work? Why pay to heat an empty home when a press of a button on your phone ensures the heating stays off? These technologies are already available, but where the smart grid gets really interesting is through its potential to automatically optimise energy use and comfort levels within your home and office through the use of smart appliances. The most commonly quoted example is the humble fridge, which can be easily

smartened up through the use of controls that ensure it does not draw power during periods when the grid is facing peaks in demand. Similarly, new electric cars can be used as backup batteries for modern green homes, automatically feeding power back to the building when required to reduce demand on the grid. Why does this matter? Well, at a time when the UK is having to spend billions of pounds on controversial new nuclear power plants, fracking projects and wind farms, reducing the demand for power helps reduce the need for new infrastructure, in turn reducing bills. Equally, the plants that are powered up at peak times tend to be the most expensive and polluting to run. Avoiding peaks in demand reduces both environmental and financial costs. In a few short years, modern homes will feature not just smart meters, but smart grid-enabled appliances that automatically reduce energy bills without compromising your comfort. And there is nothing dumb about that. James Murray is editor of BusinessGreen

EcoReport · February 2014


Smart grids


Energy-saving incentives floated by National Grid

Businesses could be paid to reduce their energy consumption from next winter

National Grid could offer financial incentives to businesses if they reduce their energy use at peak times. Regulator Ofgem says National Grid will be allowed to pay firms to reduce their electricity use between 4pm and 8pm during the winter of 2014/2015. The energy-saving scheme is a response to mounting concerns about a lack of available energy, after Ofgem warned of “tighter electricity supplies” from that winter onwards, and sought a way to relieve pressure on the energy grid. In a statement announcing the decision, Ofgem chief executive Andrew Wright said:

“Our latest assessment on security of electricity supplies published this summer showed that electricity margins are set to tighten more quickly than previously expected in the middle of the decade. This is mainly because older coal power stations will close sooner. “Britain has one of the most reliable power systems in the world, but with margins tightening there can be no room for industry complacency on security of supply. Therefore we have approved these new tools to act as an extra insurance policy that is available for National Grid to protect consumers’ power supplies.”

National Grid’s revenue for the scheme will be regulated by Ofgem. Any costs of the scheme could be passed on to the consumer, provided Ofgem decides they have been incurred in an “efficient and economic” manner. So far, National Grid believes the impact of the services on consumer bills would amount to less than £1 per year for households. Ofgem’s decision will also give National Grid the power to agree contracts with power stations, such as mothballed plants, to provide extra reserve power for times when demand is at its highest.

Customers must be made aware of the benefits of smart energy By Dave Baxter Suppliers must give consumers a “portal” into the world of energy if they want to encourage more efficient consumption, according to an expert. Rob Saunders, head of energy at the Technology Strategy Board, which focuses on British innovation, believes more could be done to help consumers embrace efficient energy forms. “You see digital technologies making a difference in taking out energy inefficiencies,” he says. “I think people are starting to become aware of some of this, but at a relatively high level. How do we energise people to see the monetary benefits technology can bring? “There are challenges in energising the typical user. The successful companies are the ones who will make something that’s simple to use but also acts as a portal into what’s a really complex system.” Professor Harriet Bulkeley, of Durham University, argues consumers are much better informed than experts assume.

When asked how people can be convinced to embrace new technologies, she says: “I am not sure they need convincing. In some senses, the problem is the other way around – convincing industry and government that the public are knowledgeable about energy and can be flexible in how they use it. “One of the key challenges is that this kind of flexibility does not neatly fall into the usual kind of socio-demographic analysis we are used to using in policy and network planning. “Instead, the ability for customers to participate in the smart grid relates to things like their work patterns, the school run, the kinds of appliances they have, and how they cook their dinners. We don’t often look at society in this way.” Bulkeley also believes people are comfortable with concepts important to making energy use efficient – in particular the differing tariffs for peak and off-peak times. She says: “Consumers are not necessarily aware of the term ‘smart grid’ or of some of the sophisticated technologies

Suppliers need to do more to increase customer awareness of smart energy

and software that can make the electricity grid more flexible to patterns of demand and supply. “However, they do have a very clear understanding of two of its most important features. First, peak demand. When we look around, it’s every where, from membership of a gym and the morning commute to memories of different costs for using the telephone in the evening or weekend. “We have found that people have adopted very easily to the idea of a peak period of energy use in the UK. “Second, perhaps more surprisingly, we found a lot of interest in the grid and in what they might be able to do to keep the lights on.”

With thanks to... Publisher Bradley Editor Daniel Production Editor Dan Reporters............................................Dave Baxter and Joanne Frearson Client Manager Alexis Project Manager Tevy

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EcoReport · February 2014



4 Smart grids

Constant energy in a world of constant change INDUSTRY VIEW


s the UK moves to decarbonise, its energy system will become increasingly electric. But there are challenges in moving from where we are now to the electric future. European pollution rules and old age mean that many of our existing power plants will shut down in the years ahead, while the need to tackle climate change means that much of the capacity that replaces it will use intermittent renewable energy technology such as wind and solar, which cannot provide power continuously. Some of this renewable energy, particularly solar, will be coming from the roofs of thousands of homes and businesses that will still want to take power from the grid part of the time as well as supplying it when they can. Meanwhile, more of our transport – in the form of electric cars and trains – and heat will also become part of the electricity system. So the system is going to become bigger and more complicated – but the infrastructure that we have now was

The concept of the smart grid has been around for a while, so where is it? There are a number of pilot projects quietly testing concepts and gathering information, many of which are funded by the Government’s L ow Car b on Ne t wor k Fun d. Siem ens is involved in a number of them, including the UK’s largest, Northern Powergrid’s £54million Customer-Led Network Revolution (CLNR) project, which involves 12,000 homes and businesses and has been running since 2011. CLNR is one of a number of projects funded by the government’s Low Carbon Networks Fund, which gave it £27million. Most of the properties taking part are fitted with smart meters and around 1,000 customers taking part have installed solar PV panels, heat pumps or provision

never built to cope with all these challenges and, on top of that, large parts of it are also due an upgrade as they come to the end of their life. The system has to meet policymakers’ three key priorities when it comes to energy – ensure that the lights won’t go out, that energy is affordable and that the system is “decarbonised”. So how will electricity networks cope with all these challenges? At the heart of the network of the future will be the smart grid. The grid that we grew up with was a very simple structure, says Paul Maher, head of the smart grid division for Siemens GB and Ireland. “It was set up to transport electricity from power stations to the big cities that were the main centres of demand. It was a very linear flow, like a stream and, like a stream it only went one way – from the power station to your house or factory.” But with renewable technology, consumers are able to put electricity back into the system – and the system is not geared to cope with that at the moment. Germany, where there has been a massive increase in renewable energy capacity, has come close to having to ask industry to shut down

for charging electric vehicles, enabling Northern Powergrid to explore the impact on electricity demand of these low-carbon technologies. The project is assessing the potential for new network technology and flexible customer response to facilitate the quicker and more economical take-up by customers of lowcarbon technologies, and the connection of increasing amounts of low-carbon and renewable energy generation to the distribution network. Siemens’ role in the CLNR project is the overall control concept to provide Active Network Management. Other projects the company is involved in include Scottish Power’s Smart Building Potential project, working with Glasgow City Council; UK Power Networks’ Low Carbon London programme; and an initiative by Western Power Distribution called Project BRISTOL, which is looking at the potential for combining solar generation with battery storage in homes, schools and offices. The scheme will also trial a variable tariff to encourage customers to use the stored energy to reduce consumption at peak times.

temporarily and even to blackouts. Maher adds: “In the next few years, they could have a really destabilised network if they don’t get to grips with it.” As our renewable energy capacity increases, we will face similar issues in the UK. However, the smart grid is the ideal tool to deal with the challenge. It can help create the power networks of the future, both by providing greater visibility about what is going on in the system at any given time and by enabling a whole range of other responses such as interconnection with other markets, demand response, energy storage and the creation of new energy services companies that can reduce the amount of power people use and make the system more efficient. “The smart grid is a bi-directional, intelligent network,” says Maher. At the national level, the transmission network has always had levels of “smartness” so that the National Grid could ensure security of supply, says Colin Henry, business development manager for Siemens’ Smart Grid division, but further down the system, “we don’t have the visibility in the network to allow people to make informed decisions. People assume that suppliers know when we are switched on but that is not the case. The system has to evolve into something smarter.” It will do this by having a layer of information and communications technology overlaid onto it, from household appliances that can communicate with the grid to sensors and transmitters on distribution equipment such as transformers. These sensors allow operators to see when equipment is being overloaded and make repairs before it deteriorates, extending the life of devices and dealing with problems before they escalate. Greater visibility will also allow operators to integrate a greater amount of renewable energy by improving forecasting and information about how much power will be generated and also by integrating energy storage into the system and allowing the increasing use of demand response techniques. “Demand response is about getting people to use energy more intelligently to reduce peak demand through things like variable tariffs,” says Maher. More automation will also allow suppliers to reduce peak supply automatically by, for example, turning off customers’ fridges for a few minutes when demand surges or to feed back into the system power stored in the batteries of electric vehicles. “The distribution companies are trying to prepare for smart grids. They need to understand what these challenges mean. We need to be bold to create the cities of the future,” says Maher.


EcoReport · February 2014

Smart grids


Consumers have been hit hard by energy cost increases over the past few years. But smart grids could be the first step to big savings for everyone. Dave Baxter reports


fter years spent facing the prospect of a large or unexpected energy bill under the door, consumers have been hit by a series of price-rise announcements over the last 12 months. Cash-strapped households are likely to find the situation frustrating, but a major project introducing new metering technology across Britain aims to put an end to many of their problems. The project, overseen by the government, aims to install 53 million “smart ” gas and electricity meters in 30 million UK homes by 2020. T he costs of this are currently expected to reach £ 1 2 .1b i l l i o n , b u t t h e government reckons it will lead to savings of £18.8billion. The smart meter system is expected to nudge consumers into using less energy and turning their gas and electricity off, or down, at the most expensive times. These new meters are also expected to better enable energy companies to fight fraud, and could be the gateway to an interconnected smart grid and a more effective energy network across the UK. Like many major projects, the roll-out has run into problems. It has been delayed by a year, and concerns around its security, effectiveness and the expected benefits have not been settled. Hongjian Sun, a lecturer in smart grids at Durham University, says the smart meter roll-out could be a stepping stone for advances in UK energy. “The advantages [of the roll-out] can be categorised into short term and long term,” he says. “In the long term, the smart meter system is the basis for the future smart grid. It’s fundamental to the smart grid. “In the short term, the meters could convince the consumer to save energy and it could also provide information on how the consumer uses energy. “With a smart meter, if you forget to switch a light off, you can do it remotely.” Zoe McLeod, head of smart and sustainable energy markets at Consumer Futures, believes the system has great potential, but says active smart meters have experienced worrying flaws. “It has got huge benefits for consumers in the sense that the largest source of consumer complaints is a problem with billing,” she says. “Smart meters will have an in-home display, so you know how much it’s costing you in pounds and pence as you are using it. “It should also enable faster switching between providers.

But we are not convinced we are on track to deliver those benefits. With accurate billing, we are getting calls from consumers who continue to get new bills or inaccurate bills. “At the moment the information [displayed by smart meters] isn’t accurate – it’s just an estimated cost. “We have had cases where the customer thought they knew what they were paying, and then they were given another bill, and their account is overdrawn, or they have to borrow money, and they have got some real problems.” She also worries that the roll-out, which is being carried out by energy suppliers, could incur unnecessary costs and

complications because of different companies installing duplicate systems in certain situations. “At the moment, different suppliers will install their devices and communications in high-rise blocks,” she says, giving one example. “The idea is that the companies roll out at different times, but we are going to have parallel and duplicate equipment, and it will increase the interference in people’s lives. “To recoup some of these savings we need some kind of co-operation protocol between suppliers.” Nick Hunn, chief technology officer at WiFore and the author of a report on the roll-out, argues that having different companies involved causes complexity. “Often in other countries it has been the network operators that roll out the meters and own them,” he says. “But in the UK the government decided that utilities will own the meters, meaning they must work as you switch from utility to utility. “You need to have degrees of i n t e r o p e r a b i l it y. T h at a d d s complexity.” Sun warns that other fears persist, for example over the privacy and health of those using smart meters. He says: “One concern is that the smart meter will determine the consumer’s behaviour through metering the current wattage, so it can know what you have done in the morning or afternoon. “There will also be some issues around the radiation from the devices and whether this is a health risk.” Mc L eo d ac k nowledge s t hat many of these issues could disappear over time. “Hopefully many of these problems will be teething issues, but we still need the guarantees that consumer benefits will be delivered,” she says. Sun admits that time is needed to iron out the kinks in the system. But he stresses that any major delay could cause the UK to fall behind. “I think you should have a lot of projects to analyse this system and make it secure, for example,” he says. “But the smart meter is the basis for the smart grid system, both in the UK and Europe, and we aim to increase the share of renewables sources in electricity generation. “If we have a delay of one year or two years, that’s ok. But if we delay longer it could be a serious problem. “I think if it is rushed, the roll-out is likely to be similar to introducing plastic bags, where we didn’t expect to have issues but then we realised it’s very difficult to dissolve them.” As smart meters enter millions of UK homes, they have the potential to transform the energy industry. But problems need to be addressed before the roll-out begins in late 2015.

EcoReport · February 2014


6 Smart grids

Real-time data the key to smart grid benefits


Real-time data could be used to make smart grids easier to manage. Silver Spring Networks, which works on smart grid technologies, has launched its SilverLink Sensor Network, making streams of data available to utility companies, sensor network operators and consumers. The software allows users to consume data from smart grids, with information coming from sources such as smart meters and other devices. In theory they could respond to situations as they develop and run the grid more efficiently. The company has also launched its own app store, bringing together different tools which can be used to get the most out of large volumes of data. This could include forecasting energy supply and demand, and even achieving the most efficient voltage across a grid. Silver Spring Networks plans to develop a smart grid software “ecosystem” of these applications, which different companies and individuals can use in future. With millions of different sensors and meters, as well as the proliferation of smart devices in the home and elsewhere, data will become more widespread and harder to manage. But it also means companies could be able to hone their systems and processes using extensive data analysis.

An engineer tests a smart meter in Burlington, Vermont

US consumers still in the dark about smart meters By Dave Baxter Consumer awareness about smart grids is no better among Americans than it was in 2011, according to a recent report. The Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative (SGCC), an industry body in America, has examined consumer attitudes to smart grids each year by conducting around 1,000 in-depth phone interviews.

This research has been used to produce its annual State Of The Consumer report, which was first published in 2011. In its 2014 report, the SGCC warns that though smart meters have been installed in many US homes, consumer awareness of the term ‘smart grid’ and related concepts is largely the same it was when its research began. The report reads: “Despite smart meters being installed in nearly

40 per cent of US homes and the emergence of the term ‘smart grid’ in mainstream use, consumer awareness and favourability is largely the same today. “This shows that we still have a long way to go in helping consumers understand smart grid and why it matters to their future.” The report found that consumers did care about the reliability of their power grid as well as their ability to use clean energy, and that they

would also be willing to pay more money to guarantee these. But it also found that those p r o m o t i n g m o d e r n p owe r technologies needed to engage customers and look at their needs in order to make the benefits of smart grid innovations ‘real’ to them. The report reads: “Consumers have told us that clean energy and grid reliability are extremely important benefits of the smart grid – and that they would be willing to pay more to receive them. “ Not on ly do con su mer s demonst rate a cont i nued willingness to pay, but their responses also show that support is not inversely correlated with price. But the report stresses the need to focus on what consumers actually care about. It reads: “Because consumers care about different things, utilities that approach consumers with benefits that they care about realise better program performance than those that use a blanket message. “Additionally, our research indicates that there may be opportunities for utilities to drive revenues by offering added value to consumers. “Segmentation can be a winwin, with consumers enjoying more personalised products and messaging about things they care about, and utilities finding new areas for growth in a changing energy landscape.”

Testing times for an all-new industry INDUSTRY VIEW


s energy consumers we are all entering into a new age of energy management, the first step of which is the smart meter for every home. Interoperability and longevity of equipment are critical, and the risks for the smart energy industry – and the potential for unforeseen costs to be passed on to the consumer – are high. Did you know smart meters are to be installed in every UK home by 2020? This “next generation” of meters will replace existing meters to provide more accurate bills and better management of energy use in your home. They will also put an end to you answering the door to strangers asking to read your meter. The concept of two-way and mutually beneficial communication between you and your energy providers is compelling: a dedicated network, not simply powering modern society but also in tune with consumers’ energy needs and budgets, and the low-carbon agenda. But getting the smart-energy industry’s parts working together is an inherently high-risk business. First, there’s the challenge of creating the technical infrastructure: the communications network, the databases and data-processing applications. Then there are the smart meters to be fitted to walls in homes and businesses. These

must be rigorously tested so thatthey have an assured lifespan of 15-plus years. If they were to fail prematurely the costs (in monetary terms, confidence and reputation) would be huge. Now consider the number of organisations involved in the UK programme rollout: the energy companies; the smart meter and equipment manufacturers; the DCC (Data and Communications Company); the DSP (Data Service Provider); the CSPs (the Communications Service Providers) and many others. Again, there’s risk at every interface; and the cost of getting things wrong is inestimable. It’s all about interoperability; everything, and everyone, must work together if we are all to reap the full benefits. At DNV GL we have helped piece together just such a complex puzzle many times before. Over the last decade DNV has worked extensively with the key players in all the major smart metering programmes in Europe. Indeed, DNV GL fulfils the energy industry’s increasing need for independent and objective expertise in, testing and certification, interoperability and technical and operational excellence. United under the new DNV GL brand are the rich heritage and service offerings of five well-known companies

– DNV, GL, KEMA, Garrad Hassan and GL Renewables Certification. This means the energy industry now has a one-stop shop that offers a full set of proven, rapidly delivered global services: strategic advice, planning, implementation and energy delivery optimisation – from policy to use. As a result, UK energy players now have instant access to a specialist resource uniquely equipped to take on the largest, most complex challenges. DNV GL is investing heavily in the UK and is soon to open a new laboratory dedicated to the burgeoning UK smart metering industry. This new testing

and interoperability centre is at DNV GL’s existing Loughborough test labs and is part of a broader commitment to a safer, smarter, greener future that sees 5 per cent of revenues invested in research and innovation. In a programme in which interoperability is the greatest potential stumbling block, this is just what the UK smart metering industry needs – and at exactly the right time in its gestation. Matt Freeman is head of section, operational excellence, UK & Ireland at DNV GL – Energy

DNV GL sits at the centre of the UK smart metering industry, offering critical independent third-party services to energy suppliers, meter manufacturers, investors and industry bodies

EcoReport · February 2014


NYC scheme to protect grid against 100-year storms By Dave Baxter

Hurricane Sandy caused severe power outages in New York in 2012

Campaign rubbishes myths about electric cars A campaign to debunk myths about electric and hybrid vehicles has received backing from several major car manufacturers. The Go Ultra Low campaign promotes cars which produce 75g or less of C02 per kilometre from the tailpipe, and attempts to match a consumer’s needs to the appropriate car. There are currently more than 20 models of

A $17-billion strategy has been unveiled to protect New York State’s energy infrastructure and other critical systems from what its governor has dubbed “100-year storms”. The plans are an attempt to transform the city and state’s energy supplies and infrastructure as well as the transport network, coastal protection and warning systems, and defend them against extreme weather events. Chaos came to the city in 2012 when Hurricane Sandy led to the flooding of the subway system, the closure of the New York Stock Exchange, electricity blackouts and the destruction of many homes and vehicles. The cost of the damage has been estimated as running into many billions of dollars. There are now plans to improve the state’s current electrical system, create ten community-based power systems which are independent from the main grid, dubbed “microgrids”, and create a strategic fuel reserve and back-up power systems on critical routes. Microgrids can operate in tandem with existing power supplies in normal conditions, but will disconnect and work independently during an emergency. Across the main grid, around 500 miles of overhead primary wire will be moved underground, a new outage response system will be set up and activities such as trimming trees near power lines will be expanded. There are also plans to replace and repair older bridges at risk of flooding and build new natural infrastructure to protect New York’s coastline from flooding, as well as training residents to respond to emergencies. On announcing the plans, New York’s governor Andrew Cuomo warned of a “new reality” where events such as Hurricane Sandy threaten New York on a more frequent basis. “We are getting hit by 100-year storms every couple of years.

ultra-low emission vehicle on the UK market, and the government wants to use them to make transport more environmentally friendly. So far, all cars with such low emissions are electric or hybrid vehicles. But these have attracted criticism, often focused on their efficiency or viability for distribution into the mass market. Just last year, Jaguar Land Rover boss Ralf Speth said the batteries for such vehicles were too expensive and that the government was making a mistake in subsidising electric cars and charging points across the UK. But now, BMW, Nissan, Renault, Toyota and Vauxhall have teamed up with the government to back Go Ultra Low. Meanwhile, deputy prime m i n i ste r Nic k C legg h a s announced around £9million in funding to create hundreds of new charging points across the UK.

We have to wake up to that new reality by completely reimagining our state to be ready for any future disaster,” he said. “Our plan completely transforms the way we build and protect our infrastructure, safeguard our energy supply, prepare our citizens and first responders, and provide fuel and electricity.” More recently, the governor has announced more than $4million in awards to researchers who can develop ways to make the electrical grid more resilient. This could include adding clean energy to the grid, boosting its general performance or lowering the cost of delivering power to consumers. Richard Kauffman, who chairs the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which is funding the projects, said: “These technologically advanced projects will further the state’s efforts to modernise the electric grid and reduce the cost of delivering power in New York State. “By fostering innovative smart grid projects today, the state will help New Yorkers meet the energy and resiliency needs of tomorrow.” But the changes are not entirely unopposed. Republicans on the New York State Senate have warned that the funding for Cuomo’s plans should be more closely scrutinised. The report reads: “Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the state was expending $1.4billion a year to help move New York State to a renewable energy future and rapidly grow the state’s green economy. “Although these goals are undeniably laudable, the resources that are being used all come from ‘off-budget’ spending and ratepayer charges exempt from legislative oversight, and without regard for the legislature’s historic and constitutionally sanctioned policydetermining functions.” New York has suffered a total of nine presidentially declared disasters in the three years since the current governor took office.

Announcing the funds, he said: “Electric cars are one of the most promising of our green industries and we want to secure the UK’s position as a global leader in both the production and adoption of these vehicles. “This means we can lower UK emissions and create high-tech engineering and manufacturing jobs to boost our economy.” Mike Hawkes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, an industry body, said the campaign could boost public awareness about electric and hybrid cars. “Given the importance of running costs and environmental per for ma nce to new car buyers, we hope the campaign will encourage more people to consider going ultra low,” he said.

Smart grids


EcoReport · February 2014

8 Smart grids


Home of the As smart grids become a reality, experts predict they’re laying the foundations for the truly connected smart home…

By Dave Baxter


tarting a business focused on t he lowl y t he r mo s t at seemed l i ke a c ra z y idea at the time, but it made all the sense in the world to us. That little device that went unnoticed and unchanged year after year on the walls of our homes was a lost opportunity to save energy and money.” These are the words of Tony Fadell, whose company Nest Labs was acquired by Google for $3.2billion last month. This is a company that works on the least glamorous of devices, from thermostats to night lights and carbon monoxide detectors. But Nest’s acquisition is likely to accelerate one of the arms races causing big changes across the technology world.

Unlike many conventional devices, Nest’s creations are connected and intelligent. Its smoke alarms can tell the difference between your burned, blackened toast and a genuine threat. It makes night lights which switch themselves on if they detect you padding around the house in the dark. Apps can be used to remotely adjust heating settings. And the Nest thermostat can adapt to its user’s routines, switching to energy-efficient heat levels when the house is empty. Importantly, as Google enters the household with new devices and functions, many competitors are likely to scramble after it. This, combined with the introduction of devices such as smart meters across many countries, is expected to herald the era of the so-called “smart home”, where everything from kettles and fridges to the locks on the front door are connected and responsive to a resident’s needs. In discussions around smart homes, much of the focus has been on ways to make a household more energyefficient. But others in the field

Below left:’s Mother system, which intelligently tracks your activities via “motion cookies” (below) wowed punters at last month’s CES in Las Vegas; inset: founder Rafi Haladjian

have greater ambitions. Joh a n n Si au, a n ac ade m ic at t he University of Hertfordshire w h o h a s b e e n wo r k i n g in this area, says it may be the time for smart homes, as manufacturers aim to appeal to an increasingly connected population. “I think the big manufacturers are trying to push software to try and interact to enable devices in homes,” he says. “We see a lot of uptake of smartphones and smart devices and apps from this generation that cannot live without them. “It’s a generation of users, and I think the industry is moving in the right direction.” But unlike those who focus just on the efficiencies smart homes could achieve, Siau believes there could be socially useful applications. He says: “By having a smart home you can control lights and the energy usage. That’s beneficial for saving energy and being green. “But if you can couple that with assisted living technology to monitor the wellbeing of the individual, or help support the vulnerable such as elderly people, this is where those areas can come together very, very well.” Others are even more ambitious. This year’s Consumer Electronics Show was wowed by Mother, which allows people to quantify and monitor their domestic habits. Mother uses four scanning devices, dubbed “motion cookies”, which record activities and report them back to a central device in the shape of a Russian doll. Attached to your coffee machine, one of the motion cookies could detect whether you take too much caffeine. Placed in a bed, it could

EcoReport · February 2014


revea l more about your sleep patterns. The central “mother” device can then give subtle recommendations on how to lead a healthier or happier lifestyle, using data analysis. Rafi Haladjian, one of the founders of, the company behind Mother, tells me that apps and devices need to combine different aspects of people’s lives, from the fun to the banal. “I feel it’s kind of artificial to separate the products and say they are smart home products,” he begins. “You should have more operational products that take care of things and address a broader range of applications and needs than the security and energy and home automation properties of smart home products today. “We want to do different things in your daily life. Some of them are very mundane and some of them aren’t. “The thing is open so you have more and more reasons to buy as the applications increase.”

Above: a Samsung smart refrigerator is demonstrated at January’s CES

Haladjian believes that apart from making a house more efficient, smart home functions can help individuals to have fun and be happier, depending on their wishes. “We want it so we can help with everything, so that you can get more handsome and fit and have fun,” he says. “These are more powerful propositions than really serious functions. But you need to have the two offers in the same product. “For example, on the fun side you could put something in a teddy bear and use it to make noises and move it and be fun for your children for a couple of hours. “That’s more exciting than putting a humidity detector in your basement, just in case there’s a drought in five years. But you need to be able to do both of these.” Exciting or not, the smart home still faces obstacles. Siau notes that one could be the inability of different devices to seamlessly interact with each other. “We find that there are a lot of interoperability issues that might cause difficulties,” he says. “Manufacturers will develop a product, but there’s not a standard in place. And it’s hard, for example, for a system to talk to a sensor or for a system to talk to a device. “The most important thing is to make it easy for more integration.” He also notes that those behind smart homes need to think carefully about security problems. He says: “There’s a lot of work to be done to understand the security risks. A very simple example is, let’s say with the front door of your house, you install a smart lock, which is the entry point to your home. “If that’s an internet-enabled device and encryption isn’t put in place, a hacker or someone who’s quite savvy will be able to break in. Things like that need to be looked at carefully.” There may be issues, but in different forms the smart home looks to be on its way. The toaster, the fridge and even the “lowly thermostat” are about to make a difference.


e Future

Smart grids


Not so smart after all? Three reasons the UK’s smart meter rollout should go smoothly – and one reason it may not INDUSTRY VIEW


eginning in 2015, the UK will replace 55 million electric, gas and water meters with smart meters. In early smart meter programs worldwide, the move to smart grid technology was not always smooth. Lost equipment, project delays, account billing snags, and even consumer protests plagued the efforts of early adapters. The British smart meter movement, however, has distinct advantages that indicate a high likelihood of success.

The timing is right Launching the bulk of its smart metering program – currently, only around one million UK meters are “smart” – Britain has access to methodologies, tools, and market insights that simply were not available previously. The energy industry as a whole appears to have listened to consumers, learned from its early missteps, and emerged with a new approach to smart grid.

The methodology has matured Smart meter rollouts today are now starting to incorporate business process management (BPM) principles. These build safeguards – to equipment, data, and people – right into the work processes, creating a series of “forced march” steps in a workflow to help design out common errors. Inventory control methods reduce losses; structured meter reading training and certification improves billing accuracy; structured workflows reduce risk, increase safety and show compliance. In Rio de Janeiro, for example, smart meter BPM has slashed operational inefficiencies and decreased time needed to replace meters, which combines for a greater ROI.

Software is Smarter Just a few years ago, no purpose-specific software existed to manage smart

metering installations. Today, best practices for safe, efficient workflows are embedded into software to balance automation and the human workforce. Implementing these proven tactics affords utilities greater ROI, improved system efficiencies and higher first-time completion rates. However, the benefits extend beyond the utility, as a resident can readily verify the identity of the worker on the doorstep; an installer can quickly resolve issues like an aggressive dog or locked gate; smart meter experts review supply side and site conditions while installations proceed on schedule. Consumer satisfaction is built into the process, too, helping retailers find the right ways and times to engage customers.

Have retailers learned? What might impair the success of smart meter deployments? Failure to appreciate the resources at hand: the global best practices for engaging customers and applying BPM and meteringspecific software. The massive rollout of smart meters across the UK is poised for success – assuming that retailers take advantage of the lessons from hard-won victories of smart meter deployments worldwide.

About the author Shashi Gupta is an expert in mobile technology that offers the safest, most efficient, least-cost solutions for managing field workforces – by balancing the processing power of computers with the cognitive power of human minds. He is CEO of Apex CoVantage, makers of ProField® software. ProField® is cost-effectively managing workforces for more than seven million AMI rollouts – ensuring reliability, reducing risk, increasing compliance, and increasing positive engagement with customers.

EcoReport · February 2014




10 Smart grids

Handling a shock to the system Why a systems architect is needed INDUSTRY VIEW


“one system” approach to Britain’s electricity networks is needed to ensure the lights stay on. Managing the challenges of decarbonisation, while maintaining security of supply and affordability for electricity customers, calls for radical and holistic thinking across the electricity system. Electricity Networks: Handling A Shock To The System, a new report from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), recommends a systems architect role to oversee the electricity system as it adapts to meet the complex new requirements of a low-carbon economy. No party has this responsibility in today’s privatised electricity sector. Decarbonisation means unprecedented change for our hitherto mature and stable networks over the next 20 years. They will have to cope with everything from two-way local power flows and less predictable generation to accommodating new demands like charging electric vehicles. All of this will have a profound impact on the electricity system. To tackle this huge challenge, the IET has formed Power Networks Joint Vision, a diverse and independent group of experts from the leading electricity distribution and transmission companies, academia, government and energy consultancies.

Electricity Networks: Handling a Shock to the System sets out in detail the scale of the challenge, together with a series of proposed ways forward. Power Networks Joint Vision is gathering momentum, with industry and policy makers coming together to give their support and welcome the group’s findings. For Britain’s electricity distribution companies, the Power Networks Joint Vision work highlights the urgent need for whole-system thinking. Basil Scarsella, UK Power Networks’ chief executive, endorses the findings of the new report, saying: “We are committed to getting our networks fit for a low carbon economy and have developed a comprehensive innovation strategy to support that objective. However, to make decarbonisation a reality, we need to make sure we look at the electricity system as a whole – and not just parts of it in isolation.” Simon Harrision, Power Networks Joint Vision chair, sees a genuine opportunity to tackle the challenges facing the power industry head on by taking action now. “New low-carbon developments will undoubtedly put increasing pressure on electricity supply security and the cost of running the grid,” he says. “But Power Networks Joint Vision has rallied fresh thinking which, given the scale and complexity of the challenges, is a significant breakthrough. If we get this right, there is a real opportunity to reduce the cost of a lowcarbon future, while also creating worldwide opportunity for innovation and UK leadership.”

The next stage of work for Power Networks Joint Vision is subject to funding, but will define the role of the systems architect in more detail. It will also draw on parallels in other industries, including telecommunications, rail and aviation, where an agency-style systems architect has overcome significant challenges by developing and implementing industry-wide codes and standards. Find out more about Electricity Networks: Handling A Shock To The System and how to get involved at

Building storm resilience into the grid We need to move beyond a ‘make do and mend’ attitude INDUSTRY VIEW


ccording to the Energy Networks Association, following the Boxing Day storms more than 150,000 UK homes lost power. While the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) estimates that the UK needs a £110billion energy infrastructure upgrade, currently many of the improvements involve more of the same. State-of-the-art technologies

such as energy storage can in fact modernise our aging grid, making it storm-resilient, while future-proofing it to cope with rising power demand. Traditionally, we have addressed rising demand by reinforcing the grid with new transmission lines and transformers. This method is costly – as copper and aluminium are used – and is impractical, as demand is continually evolving, meaning roads dug up to

reinforce power lines are commonplace. The alternative is to place energy storage devices at key points throughout the grid, which store electricity at low periods of demand and can then be released to cope with rising demand during peak hours. Distributed energy storage offers another important benefit: it provides a local back-up power supply in the event the grid is damaged and power from central sources is disrupted. When storm damage occurs, distributed energy storage enables electricity to be provided while utility crews repair damage to the grid. As well as improving grid resiliency, energy storage also improves efficiency. In fact, Imperial College found that the UK could make system savings of more than £10billion per year by deploying 25 gigawatts of energy storage by 2050. S&C Electric Europe recently announced a project to lead a cuttingedge trial of energy storage technology – Europe’s largest – to test new methods of capturing electricity for release over long periods, to even out the peaks and troughs of supply and demand. When finished, the Samsung battery in UK Power Network’s Leighton Buzzard substation will have a six megawatt capacity, which is expected to save more than £6million on traditional network reinforcement methods, such as cabling and transformers.

Another effective way to increase grid resiliency is to intelligently automate power networks. Advanced Distribution Automation (ADA) allows utilities to respond to emergency situations (such as storm blackouts) by automatically re-routing electricity around damaged sections of the power system to restore power to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. Utilities in the United States have been making grids smart for some time. In Chattanooga, Tennessee, the local utility, EPB, used S&C to install the most automated network of its size in the US (serving 170,000 customers). When a major storm hit the city in 2012, the automated system reduced power outages by 55 per cent. Network operators face a major challenge in upgrading the grid in the face of increasing extreme weather events. The key change is the grid needs to facilitate demand to meet supply, not supply to meet demand, as it does today. Fortunately, the tools and expertise exist to increase demand by powering up energy storage devices when there’s a surplus, and then to reduce demand when energy supply is lower. To achieve this we need to move beyond “make do and mend” and embrace the smart grid.

EcoReport · February 2014


Smart grids 11

Inspector Dogberry While Dogberry appreciates any efforts to make the world greener, his focus only really narrows when it comes to the bottom line. There is a similar friction in many businesses. While the head of a company may not actively dislike the idea of energy conservation, commercial factors always seem more pressing. It follows that anyone pushing for better

energy use needs to make a solid business case. eBay, the name behind the auction and shopping website, has been working on exactly that. It has spent years developing metrics which can measure not just a service’s carbon footprint, but also how much revenue can be attributed to the power used. The Digital Service Efficiency (DSE) metric, which eBay officially unveiled last

Does the smart grid need to be more fun? While experts will differ on the level of consumer awareness around new technology, it can’t hurt to give smart grid innovations the oxygen of publicity. US firm Reliant has taken this to heart in a number of adverts aimed at consumers, which focus on bringing some levity to the subject. The slots, promoting Reliant’s smart energy tools, have featured jokes and amusing characters including a “smart dog” pushing devices into its kennel and even “Armadillo Al” (not pictured, right), who dances for an adoring crowd. This could be a good idea for the UK. Consumer benefits, green targets and reductions in energy fraud are all laudable aims, but how can you beat a dancing armadillo?


Twitter: @dogberryTweets

year, looks at the site’s carbon footprint and environmental impact. But it also looks at how much revenue is generated per unit of power consumed, and the overall cost of the service. Like many innovations, it involves an analytics team poring over data collected by the company. As part of this, the team has been working on updating eBay’s search engine and making its servers more efficient. The company could save money and power. But it may also set an example for other firms.

Energy could be going local. While millions rely on large companies for their power, the idea of generating your own power at home could become increasingly popular. As rising prices continue to outrage consumers, they may want to take matters into their own hands, or simply want to have a green, independent power source. Solar panel technology, for example, is likely to improve. One company, Trusted Renewables, is working to protect metering systems from fraud. And Solarmass, a firm working on roof panels, recently raised £100,000 using crowdfunding. This could all feed into the main grid. But energy is becoming increasingly diversified.

A smart investment The smart energy market could grow aggressively over the next few years. But how much is it actually worth? Dogberry has attempted to sniff this out, with some difficulty. While growth predictions for the smart energy market are numerous, the estimates being thrown around vary wildly. The Inspector admits many unknown quantities are at play, from the effectiveness of smart meter roll-outs to consumer adoption of new technology. A government report from October notes: “Market estimates and forecasts from different sources are not directly comparable and can

vary significantly. An estimated global market size of $220billion is forecast by 2020 for smart grid technology globally, while $500billion will be spent globally on smart grid initiatives by 2030.” It could get lucrative. Should Dogberry start investing?

By Matt Smith, web editor

u Editor’s pick Building a Smarter Planet Blog IBM’s Building a Smarter Planet blog is, in the technology giant’s words, “a starting point for conversation’ around smart grid and technology issues, rather than a destination for final answers.” Its expert articles and podcasts form the basis for discussion between readers, and there’s a long back catalogue of posts to browse.

NTS-AT Smart Grid Blog

http://smartgrid.testing-blog. com/tag/telecom

This blog is written by engineers and staff at NTS Advanced Technology, a division of National Technology Systems that carries out research and development focused on upcoming smart grid and smart energy technologies. Its posts range from analysis of relevant policy to previews of upcoming technology.

Specialist news website brings you regular features and opinion on the development of smart grids and the challenges that lie ahead when it comes to replacing (or integrating with) existing systems. Check back regularly for comment on the latest news.

Siemens Smart Grid Watch smartgridwatch

Smart Home Control (FREE – Android)

myHome (FREE – Android)

Samsung’s app can control washing machines, televisions, air conditioners, and computers connected to your wireless router.

This British Gas app allows customers using the Remote Heating Control to manage their home’s heating.

Smart Grid Watch allows those interested in smart grid technologies to discuss the latest developments with Siemens. The blog focuses on regulation and policy, consumer engagement, and research and development, and offers both insightful articles and videos from smart gridrelated events around the world.

M2M solutions making a global difference Reliable connectivity is essential for smart grids INDUSTRY VIEW


seye works with a range of companies across a variety of smart grid solutions. From enabling a client’s smart meters with our managed AnyNet SIM connectivity or installing our own out-the-box energy monitors through to developing innovative payment solutions with partners like M-KOPA to bring clean energy to remote areas of Kenya, Eseye knows reliable managed connectivity is essential. With climate change and rise in energy costs people and businesses are no longer

just the bill-payers. The use of smart grids has given energy consumers the chance to be more informed about their usage, giving them more control over consumption and overall costs. As businesses look for greener solutions to combat their carbon footprint, Eseye continues to develop devices and M2M solutions that will have a positive impact on the environment and make government compliance easier to meet without impacting resources. Smart grids are essential to control and deal with global warming and energy resilience. The distribution networks allow for monitoring, analysis, control and communication to help improve efficiency and reduce both the consumption and cost of energy for consumers. In addition, smart grids provide real-time information on power supply and demand allowing both consumers and providers to react

faster, to become both greener and cleaner. Remote locations can often challenge connectivity, which is why smart grids are vital to help combat the struggles of connectivity for people and businesses alike. Electricity networks are critical to achieving energy and climatechange objectives. Efficient, secure and reliable interstate transmission networks will enable domestic renewable energy resources currently stranded in remote areas to be used. With the rapid development of M2M technologies the world is moving into an era of smarter cities. From smart meters to smart grids, everything in the future will be connected in order to generate more efficient ways of living.

EcoReport · February 2014


12 Smart grids

Business World


smart grid division, said: “We will combine our expertise as a technology leader in the energy industry with the experience of one of the most important utilities worldwide.”


United States

A Silicon Valley firm has secured $20million in funding for its work on clean energy storage. Primus Power is working on battery storage systems aimed at efficiently capturing energy generated by renewables such as wind and solar. The company now plans to ship its systems to utilities owned by its investors and power grids at military bases. It claims the successful financing round shows an increasing demand for “gridscale” energy storage.

Middle East


Smart grid technologies could come to the Middle East as part of a new agreement. Siemens and Spanish utility firm Iberdrola plan to form a strategic alliance, focused on balancing supply and demand, integrating renewables and monitoring distribution grids. Jan Mrosik, head of the Siemens

India wants to avoid future blackouts by managing supply and demand across its power network. Power Grid Corporation of India has chosen Alstom, an energy and infrastructure company, to deliver a real-time energy-management system aimed at responding to power flows across the national grid. Hundreds of millions were left without power in the summer of 2012, when the Indian grid was hit by the largest blackout in history.


France and Germany could begin working together on renewables, according to reports. François Hollande and Angela Merkel have held recent discussions on the prospect of a joint energy venture between the two countries. It is expected that they could firm up plans later this year. Although France is a big user of nuclear power – something Germany is looking to phase out – both nations want to increase their deployment of renewables.

With smart systems comes the risk of smart cyber-attacks. Dave Baxter reports


ritain risks “anarchy and chaos” if it fails to defend its smart systems from cyber attacks, according to a security specialist. Chris McIntosh, CEO at ViaSat UK, says that without high-grade defences to protect them, devices such as smart meters remain prone to hacking from remote locations. To combat fraud or abuse, energy companies could use smart meters to remotely shut off customers from the energy grid. But this function could

also be put to more malicious use by hackers. McIntosh warns that with an interconnected smart grid system, an attack could quickly spread across an entire network of devices, playing havoc with power stations and other critical infrastructure. “In the past, the systems were bespoke and normally point-to-point and controlled,” he says. “As they didn’t go via the internet, they were an in-house system. “You had to be in the same location (as the device) to attack it. That meant there were lots of different systems but it was really safe. “Now what we have done is used the internet to link our substations and whatever, allowing us to have a network of communications. But it makes us very vulnerable to a remote attack.” With the proliferation of connected devices and the roll-out of smart meters across the UK, these systems will become increasingly connected. But McIntosh believes

A more intelligent energy system

Customers understand the benefits of control INDUSTRY VIEW


onsumers in Britain benefit from some of the highest levels of reliability of energy supply in the world, but it shouldn’t be surprising that consumers are concerned about energy costs, with domestic energy bills having doubled in real terms over the last

10 years. The sustained, aboveinflationary rises mean that energy is taking an increasing amount of household incomes. What may be more surprising is that Britain’s unit energy costs are some of the cheapest in Europe. Britain’s unit electricity cost is the third cheapest out of the 11 western European countries and we have the cheapest unit gas costs; yet our bills are some of the highest. British households are spending the second-highest proportion of household incomes on energy out of the same 11 countries. We use more energy than our

neighbours to gain the same benefit! Britain’s low-unit energy costs mean consumers can take control of how and when they use energy to help make their bills more affordable, without suffering from energy austerity. This increased empowerment for consumers in how they satisfy their energy needs will be enabled by smart meters that give them access to the right information, at the right time to take action on their energy use. This is all about people becoming active participants in a more intelligent energy system, rather than just consumers of energy. 2013 was witness to some significant milestones achieved in the programme that will lay the foundation for this more intelligent energy system, by providing every home and small business in Britain with the opportunity to benefit from having a smart meter. That’s 53 million meters installed in 30 million premises by 2020. The award of the Data Communication Company Licence by the government and the associated contracts for communication and data services to organisations including CGI, along with the establishment of the governance framework for the smart energy market, marked real progress. But the deployment of the smart meters themselves will not deliver the projected £18.8billion in gross benefit in the period to 2030: that requires engaged

consumers. Smart meters deliver an information and communication infrastructure in much the same way as the deployment of high-speed broadband or the digital broadcast network. We are taking the first steps on this journey. Lots of things need to happen – from nascent technologies maturing, to consumers gaining greater confidence that allowing when they use energy to be controlled will deliver more affordable bills, while letting them maintain their chosen lifestyle. The challenge is to ensure that it’s easy for empowered consumers to become an integral part of a more intelligent energy system; a system which will help ensure that we continue to have affordable energy available on demand. Is this fiction? We have seen other sectors take similar journeys based on technological innovation and growing customer confidence on the use of those technologies – think of the evolution of the mobile phone over the last 30 years. And through innovation programmes such as Low Carbon London, of which CGI is a partner, we are already seeing customers with the ability to control their energy demand realise benefit in terms of their energy costs.

EcoReport · February 2014


Smart grids 13


smart grids deserve the same levels of protection used by the UK’s top institutions. He says: “When I talk about smart grid, I talk about interconnecting everything to improve communications. But this brings vulnerabilities. “We are extremely vulnerable if we don’t protect the communications and networks to an appropriate level. I’m talking about the level of protection the government and army use for their own systems.” He fears that, once hacked, power systems can be easily manipulated, even to the point where the UK’s energy network could collapse. He says: “The key thing people want to do is disrupt the service, deny the service or steal data and get personal information or credit card details. “With the systems that control the grid, it’s hacking into a system or using malware, and that can come from any country linked to the internet. “You can attack a substation using legitimate orders, such as switching the power off and on. With ancient systems, they will rapidly blow themselves up.” McIntosh warns that it would take little time without power for the UK to descend into chaos. He says: “In the UK, without power, it would be a matter of hours, not weeks, before we have anarchy and chaos. “If you can remotely switch off from the electricity grid, it’s helping terrorists do their job. We have put a ticking time-bomb in everyone’s home.” These concerns are not new. In 2010, for example, Professor Ross Anderson, an academic in Cambridge University’s computer science department, wrote the report Who Controls The Off Switch? In this report, Anderson warned that the introduction of smart meters in countries such as Britain and America would create a huge “cyber-vulnerability” by allowing hackers to cut the devices off from the power supply.

“We are extremely vulnerable if we don’t protect the networks. I’m talking about the level of protection the government and army use” – Chris McIntosh, CEO, ViaSat UK An abstract of the report reads: “The off switch creates information security problems of a kind, and on a scale, that the energy companies have not had to face before. “From the viewpoint of a cyber attacker – whether a hostile government agency, a terrorist organisation or even a militant environmental group – the ideal attack on a target country is to interrupt its citizens’ electricity supply. “This is the cyber equivalent of a nuclear strike; when the electricity stops, then pretty soon everything else does too.” McIntosh firmly believes that, while energy companies in Britain may well be concerned about any vulnerabilities, they are unlikely to take the action needed on their own. “Energy companies are interested in this, but none of them wants to be the one that’s breaking the rules or regulations. “It’s essential that the government makes sure that the standards are realistic. “Time will not stand still, and the terrorists who want to attack us have not stopped. They are constantly evolving and changing. “We have got to ensure we improve it with time. And it’s most certainly not just technology – it’s people and processes. It’s individuals who think you don’t need protection systems and you are secure. It’s a complex beast.”

Chris McIntosh (left inset) believes smart energy grids will be a recipe for chaos if they are not protected from hackers

The smarter way to energy efficiency INDUSTRY VIEW

Saving energy through heating technology


magine a technology capable of controlling every electrical device remotely – from a single light bulb to an entire city infrastructure. Imagine the impact of such a system on the UK’s energy efficiency, security and capacity. Actually, there’s no need to imagine, because just such a technology – Z-LYNK – is being rolled out across the UK, and has the potential to deliver significant energy efficiency gains for public-sector organisations, businesses and domestic households. Z-LYNK, from Energy Assets, is smart, real-time demand management technology that uses cloud-based software to broadcast command messages seamlessly from the 11kv distribution network, downstream via the 415v system to individual 13-amp sockets. Currently, this system is enabling the City of London Corporation to turn on and off – or dim – street lighting within the famous square mile and around iconic buildings such as St Paul’s Cathedral. It’s also being used to control storage heating systems in flats across London, but it could just as easily manage multiple devices within any UK household, commercial building, social housing development, university campus or retail chain. “The technology is entirely complementary to smart metering, but goes one step beyond,” says Alan Jones, Energy Assets director of technology and product development, and one of the UK’s leading energy technologists. “Smart metering will help consumers and suppliers focus on energy efficiency, but Z-LYNK provides a practical means of cutting energy

consumption and making savings.” Z-LYNK also enables distribution network owners (DNO) to manage peak demand through load switching, opening up potential financial incentives for end users participating in switching schemes. “Across the UK, there are some fantastic energy efficiency innovations coming out of the DNO Future Network Teams and from industry,” says Kenny Cameron, director of strategic development at Energy Assets, “but there will be no single solution to meeting our energy needs. Z-LYNK is already proving its value in the creation of smarter cities – and its influence will grow as we adopt the technology to exercise greater control over the way we use and manage energy.”

Z-LYNK controls storage heating remotely for hundreds of families in flats across London. This control can be exercised via a signal injected either into the 11kv network by a transmitter located in a substation, or into the 415v network within a tower block or industrial and commercial property. This enables building owners and tenants to take advantage of off-peak tariffs while maintaining reduced daytime demand on distribution networks. These cost benefits are multiplied when linked to innovative storage heating technologies. The Dimplex Quantum range can deliver 90 per cent of space heating needs via off-peak electricity – an ideal solution for social housing or universities when linked to Z-LYNK – and offers up to 27 per cent savings in energy consumption and up to 22 per cent improved running costs, thanks to advances in insulation and controllability. “The electrification of heating is a government priority because of its positive impact on emissions,” says Jack Gault, CEO of Glen Dimplex’s Heating Division. “Technologies such as Quantum and Z-LYNK are turning this vision of a more energy efficient future into reality.”

EcoReport · February 2014


EcoReport Zone

14 Smart grids – Industry view

Smart grid findings set to be revealed

Smart homes: the missing link


esults from two cuttingedge smart grid projects led by UK Power Networks will be revealed this year. The company, which keeps the lights on across a quarter of Britain, will publish findings from the £28.3million Low Carbon London and £9.7million Flexible Plug and Play projects from July. Britain’s binding CO2 reduction targets and the huge increase in demand for electricity resulting from new, low-carbon technologies, such as electric vehicles and heat pumps, sets significant challenges for electricity distribution companies such as UK Power Networks. Smart grids will help meet the projected increased demand on Britain’s electricity systems without overloading the electricity network, unnecessarily installing new equipment at electricity substations or digging up the roads to lay new cables. Trials carried out by UK Power Networks, the local electricity distributor for London, the South East and East of England, are testing lower-cost ways to connect more electric vehicles, heat pumps, micro or distributed generation to the electricity network and new commercial arrangements, such as demand-side response. UK Power Networks is an industry leader on innovation, investing more in innovation than other distribution network operators and pledging £135million savings from the introduction of smart grid technology over the eight years to 2023. When its Low Carbon London trials conclude this year the company will share results from the first British trial of domestic day-ahead electricity prices involving

1,100 customers, one of the largest electric vehicle trials in the country, monitoring 1,400 public charge points and 150 vehicles, demand-side response contracts delivering 329mWh of support to the electricity network, active network management trials and almost 16,000 monitored smart meters. Flexible Plug and Play has been trialling the first interruptible power connections for distributed generation. Last year, two wind farms in East Anglia became the first to accept this type of connection to the closest point on the

network on a cheaper, interruptible basis, avoiding expensive network upgrades. The step from research to reality is a short one, with UK Power Networks already committing to making these new connections a standard business service for distributed generation in 2015. To find out more about all UK Power Networks’ innovation projects visit www.ukpowernetworks. 0845 601 4516

In focus: Era of smart grids is with us Jamie Oliver

My aim is to achieve sustainable change, not just a cute little makeover.


he first formal home smart grid solutions and projects have been announced and the era of the smart grid appears to be upon us. The solution is enabled across the energy transmission network, from smart meters to energy company management tools. The key elements are the large scale of connected homes and buildings linked to a system that enables energy companies to plan demand, price and billing effectively and create user information that is effective and useful. To achieve the latter, energy companies will need to deploy a pervasive and stable managed

data transmission platform as no one network will be able to support 100 per cent coverage. The challenge they face will be the effective integration of the data into already overworked systems. The market is also changing with new entrants on the telecom’s infrastructure side becoming more prevalent and each of

these connections will need to be managed and supported The benefit Wyless brings is that it bridges between the many suppliers of data transmission technology, creates a single ubiquitous data interface delivered to other systems via standard APIs, and enhances the energy company’s integration by

providing a single billing interface from whatever operational systems they require. In addition the ability to provide remote management and control of devices up to and including the meter will enable the energy companies to improve the quality of service to the customer. Wyless’s award-winning Porthos platform continues to drive innovation into all aspects of connectivity and user management, proven by its current customers operating in the water, gas, electricity and energy management markets globally. +44 1895 454 660

Connecting devices in your home to the internet is easy, right? Yes, if you’re thinking of the devices that work with your WiFi, such as your smartphone, your tablet and your laptop. But when it comes to the devices that run your home and consume most of your electricity, such as your domestic appliances, your central heating pump, your electric shower and so on, then the answer – perhaps surprisingly – is no. Smart home products, be they for home energy management, smart metering extensions, environmental controls or demand-side response solutions, need to connect to everything in the home no matter where they are located. And they need to achieve this in every home, or else it cannot be a mass-market offering. What has been overlooked to date is that none of the technologies being touted to connect up our smart homes was ever designed for that task. None of the current offerings can be said to work ubiquitously, often failing to reach to the extremities of the home where the appliances that need smartening are to be found. The “missing link” is a technology that connects everywhere in the home, and works in every home at that. It also has to be low cost and extremely easy to set up, use low power, be unobtrusively small, and work alongside all the other technologies that might already be in the home. Frustrated that no one else had done this, we designed it ourselves. We call it Hanadu. Hanadu connects appliances and devices everywhere, and is backed by a growing number of major companies within the smart home ecosystem. Hanadu allows the smart grid to be finally rolled out to the mass market.

EcoReport · February 2014


Smart grids – Industry view 15

The debate: What are the commercial opportunities of smart grids?

Mark de Vere White President of electricity Itron

Antoine Rizk VP marketing, vertical markets Axway

The way that consumers and suppliers interact and collectively manage energy use is of importance to us all. Gentrack believes that the success of a smart grid can be measured by the progress it makes in reducing energy use, improving customer service and lowering the utility companies’ costs to serve us. The use of technologies such as smart metering systems, network monitoring sensors and smarter software solutions are providing consumers with the ability to effectively measure, analyse and control their energy consumption. Delivering this data in real time, in a useful way, will help lower bills and conserve resources. The commercial opportunities for software providers lie within this framework of cost efficient and meaningful distribution of information to educate and empower customers. The ability of some suppliers to create action and knowledge from this information will see new leaders emerge and improve the reliability, efficiency and safety of the grid for the benefit of consumers, utilities, and the environment.

Europe has made strong commitments to achieve significant increases in energy efficiency and renewable energy, and to reduce carbon emissions. Smart metering and other smartgrid technologies will be critical in reaching these objectives. The transition to smart grids presents technical, economic and social challenges, and requires regulatory conditions that encourage investment from a number of stakeholders. That investment will support economic growth in the EU by providing a more efficient, reliable and flexible power grid, by driving investment and creating new jobs in smart grid technologies including renewable energy, and by increasing energy efficiency. As a result, energy usage will become more controllable and manageable for businesses and consumers. The technology to enable the smart grid exists today, and it brings the chance to power the 21st century with energy that is clean, affordable, secure, and reliable. Perhaps this is the greatest opportunity of all.

It’s predicated there will be 45 million households connected via smart grids in the future. That’s an ocean of information to keep contained. But while this opens a number of commercial opportunities, if this data isn’t securely housed the effects could be simply unimaginable. If a hacker gets access they could deregulate the entire energy supply chain and consumers are worried about their privacy, so will want assurances that their personal details are safe. Smart grids rely on Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to communicate. Suppliers will be able to secure all communications by putting in place an API Gateway solution. It acts as a gatekeeper to a single entry point, providing a simple and effective way of simultaneously monitoring data flows through the smart grid ecosystem and authenticating all users’ access to stored data. While providers are looking to the future, if they don’t first reassure customers their data is safe, they won’t have their buy-in. The future of smart grids will depend on investments made in security.

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David Brown Vice president for Europe Gentrack

Steve Howard Director Technolog Ltd Britain’s smart metering roll-out will be a major step towards load management and a smart grid system. The data from smart meters will provide detailed information on a scale that has never before been seen. Technolog develops electronic products and software for the energy sector. While the technologies deployed in smart meters are extremely advanced, they do not themselves reduce energy consumption or bills. For that to happen, consumers must understand the information provided by the smart meters and take actions to minimise waste, move load to off-peak times and choose more energy-efficient, programmable appliances. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for energy suppliers to meet all of their customers and build loyalty by helping them manage their usage. Combining this with an efficient smartgrid system will secure our energy supply into the future.

Rob McNamara Head of programmes: energy and environment, techUK The smart in the smart grid will come from the application of innovative ICT technologies to Britain’s energy networks. New technologies and services – such as smart metering, sensors, and analytics – will help achieve a more efficient and interconnected energy network that will deliver a better deal for consumers. The transition to the smart grid will also facilitate new markets for other key low-carbon technologies, such as electric vehicles and electric heat pumps. As the UK’s leading ICT industry body, techUK champions the positive role that the ICT industry will play in ushering in a future energy system that will meet the UK’s need for a more affordable, sustainable and resilient energy system. 020 7331 2000

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A smarter home is more cost effective An app to save you £200 a year INDUSTRY VIEW


his winter, it’s going to cost us 60 per cent more to heat our homes than six years ago – despite “real” wages declining by more than 5 per cent. While there’s little to be done about rising energy prices – with the big suppliers blaming rising wholesale costs – smart meter technology that cuts the price of home energy consumption by allowing households to accurately measure their energy wastage is becoming available. The problem is that the packages being provided by the energy companies and other providers only work as an on/off switch for the whole home, and are perceived to tie users into one company. But new smart homes solutions, such as that

available from small UK company nCube, which work independently from the energy companies, can save households far more by allowing control over every facet of a household’s energy consumption, from the kitchen lights to heating a spare bedroom – controllable through an app on a laptop, smartphone or tablet.

It’s simple technology designed for any UK home – but with a twist – because it can also tell consumers which items in their home are the most inefficient, and costing them the most. By allowing consumers to turn off their lights, heating and appliances, room by room and all through a remote device, Philip Steele, the founder of nCube, estimates that households can save well over £200 each year. The platform can be expanded into security, safety and entertainment, allowing users to rate not just how cost-effective energy suppliers are but also alarm, broadband and even white-goods suppliers. nCube is a simple device that plugs into a household’s broadband connection, and works in conjunction with many smart home devices available on the market – giving users independence from one energy or electricity company. A smarter home is a more cost- and energy-efficient home. Visit for more information. 020 8088 0181

Smart Grids  
Smart Grids