Smart move

Plans for a UK-wide smart gas and electricity meter scheme are to be unveiled today by the energy and climate change secretary, Ed Miliband, which will see 47million meters installed in 26million properties by 2020. Almost five million meters per year: that’s a tough target. And this will be accompanied by the roll-out of smart grid systems, so not only will householders be able to see how they are consuming energy – and therefore control how much they use more easily – but the system itself will be able to respond to fluctuations in energy supply and demand.

It’s surprising that there is some opposition to smart metering: crude objections to ‘a spy in every home’, in most cases, although some of the more conservative projections of savings might cast doubt over the immediate payback for the scheme. But make no mistake, this is a vital infrastructure improvement. First, controlling your energy usage without a reliable way of measuring it is pretty much impossible. Imagine trying to stick to a speed limit if your car has no speedometer. And second, there’s no way that renewable energy generators can be connected to the grid without some element of smartness.

Over the next ten years, we’ll see in our homes evidence of the shift in energy generation, equipping us to keep the lights on when fossil fuel reserves start to dwindle. And not only that, it’ll remind us to turn the bedroom light off when there’s no-one in there. A small step into the future, but a significant one.

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Stuart Nathan

Special Reports Editor