Generating value from smart meter data

New project aims to make the most of the smart meter roll-out

13 December 2011

Earlier this year the 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.

But how could the vast amount of information that will be generated about the UK’s energy consumption be used to help the electricity industry?

That’s the key question behind a new CSE project, part-funded by the Technology Strategy Board through their ‘Harnessing Large and Diverse Sources of Data’ competition for research and development funding.

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.

Joshua Thumim is managing the overall project for CSE: He said:

“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.” Josh explained. “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.

“To do this, the electricity industry currently has to make a series of generalisations about the patterns of demand of different consumers to address potential gaps. But the type of information produced by 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.

“With an ageing infrastructure, an ongoing investment in renewables and a need to shift demand so it is spread more evenly over the day, the results of the project could prove vital to the industry. The challenge for CSE is to extract, analyse and present this in a way that can be done promptly and cost-effectively,” Josh added.

The project is a partnership between CSE, Western Power Distribution, Scottish and Southern Energy, and the University of Bristol and will run until the end of 2012. 

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