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Smart grid technology can help UK tackle carbon emissions

Recent study highlights significant contribution smart grid technology can make to UK carbon reductions, postponing network investments and keeping customers’ energy...

Results from UK Power Networks’ (UKPN) £28.3m Low Carbon London project indicate that if just one of the initiatives trialled was fully adopted across the country it would contribute up to 5g/kWh towards the Governments’ target to cut carbon emissions from the electricity system by 100-200g/kWh by 2030. This is equivalent to replacing a further 700MW of conventional generation with low-carbon generation.

The four-year project investigated the impact of a wide range of low-carbon technologies and solutions on London's electricity distribution network, including smart metering, demand side management, wind-twinning tariffs and controlled EV charging.

The trial involving smart meters showed broad acceptance of the technology with most participants benefiting from "dynamic time of use" tariffs linked to half hourly billing. Consumers were incentivised to change their electricity consumption in reaction to changes in the electricity tariff. 95% of consumers reported savings compared to what they would have paid if using a standard flat tariff.

A home appliance survey showed that switching to more efficient appliances could save up to 10TWh in household electricity consumption by 2020.

In the trial of demand side response contracts among business users, customers including hotels, shops and tourist attractions were rewarded for reducing their electricity consumption or generating electricity locally when required. The 37 participants shifted enough electricity to serve 18,000 homes at peak time.

Reducing consumption at peak times in this way can relieve network congestion, reducing the requirement for additional generating capacity and postponing network investments.

Researchers also looked at systems monitoring the impact of green electricity exported to the London network and found the active network management approach would allow up to a third more energy plants to export power to urban networks.

Wind-twinning tariffs encouraging customers to adapt their energy use to local and national wind energy production was shown to reduce average peak demand on the network by up to 8%, with 91% of participants claiming to have saved money and wanting to see the tariffs rolled out.

Martin Wilcox, head of future networks at UK Power Networks, suggests that intelligent systems “will be essential” in monitoring, controlling and balancing extra pressures on our network. The findings of Low Carbon London brings the UK a “step closer to the low carbon future and tackles the 'energy trilemma' to deliver low carbon, affordable, secure power supplies."

Full summary report available here.


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