Smart energy system will need action to get everyone onboard

CSE publishes response to government’s call for evidence

18 January 2017

The government and energy regulator recently sought the views on the development of a "smart and flexible" energy system for the UK. This was done through a Call for Evidence by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Ofgem that closed on 12 January.

CSE’s response highlights a significant gap in the official thinking which is shaping this important development.

As Secretary of State Greg Clark explained in his foreword, the energy system – particularly electricity – is changing. Smart meters are being rolled out, additional renewable capacity is coming on stream and new demands (electric cars and trains) are being made on the grid. What else needs to change to make the most of these developments?

The government defines a 'smart energy system' as "one which uses information technology to intelligently integrate the actions of users connected to it" and ‘flexibility’ as "the ability to modify generation and/or consumption patterns in reaction to an external signal (such as a change in price)".

You can download our response to the call for evidence here.

Our Chief Executive, Simon Roberts OBE, said: “The Call for Evidence is very welcome and it shines a light on the technical and regulatory issues associated with establishing a smart, decarbonised electricity system. But it fails to identify the social and cultural conditions which need to be created so that the public are fully onboard.

"It's not all about technical, regulatory or commercial issues - important as they are. A smart electricity system needs widespread public participation and it needs meaningful public trust and consent for the changes that it will bring about in, for example, how and when we use electricity, what appliances and services we’ll need, and how we’ll be charged for it."

Simon warned: "It would be very risky and potentially costly to take that public participation, trust and consent for granted, or just hope it will emerge without deliberate effort to secure and sustain it. In the response we've submitted to BEIS and Ofgem we've urged strongly that these issues be considered and addressed so that we can secure a genuinely smart electricity system which works for everyone.”  

You can download our response to the call for evidence here.

Photo: kelvin Pulker ( reproduced under creative commons

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