The Smart Home

The move to a new Smart Energy System provides individual households and communities with the tools to take control of their own energy futures.

The Smart home is now a reality following the rapid technological developments, and convergence of the communications and IT sectors, providing the power to actively manage the many components that make up a Smart Home. The smart home will be actively connected to the wider energy system allowing householders to not only produce their own energy but to use it when they need it or sell it back to the grid when it is needed most. Homes currently challenge our energy system with big peaks in demand when we all come home in the evening. In the future our homes will actually support the wider energy system, through, smart appliances, heating and even electric vehicles, reducing demand at high use times as well as new storage technologies retain energy at times of excess and releasing it when needed. All this will be accessed through a simple phone application.

Smart Home

Perhaps the most exciting opportunity of smart homes is how they can work together as a community. Through communities working together local energy markets have the potential to allow up to 70% of our energy spend to be retained within the local economy. Energy will bring people together locally like the internet has brought people together globally. Innovative social energy models will be developed where communities themselves tackle challenging issues such as fuel poverty.

A smart home is however, not just about energy. A smart home will include technology that can ‘intuitively’ help us live, work and play for example. Our colleagues at Intellect have done a great job of summarising some of the challenges and opportunities we face as we get increasingly connected in our day to day lives.

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For a more detailed review click here


Horizon 2020 has been launched

The first Horizon 2020 Calls for Proposals have now been launched. As expected there has been very little change from the draft proposals that we highlighted a few weeks back, so smart grid and smart energy are still key themes.

Our colleagues at EU Energy Focus are currently summarising each of the topics as the website isn’t the easiest to navigate. Once these are complete we will send out the link. We are exploring a number of areas so if you have any ideas we would as ever be interested to discuss them with you.

Latest winners of Smart Grid funding announced


The results of the latest round of funding for Ofgem’s Low Carbon Networks Fund and Network Innovation Competitions have recently been published. These schemes are the UK governments support programme for network operators to develop new smart solutions to future network challenges.

This year, ten innovative projects have been selected and will receive a total of £59.4m. There are some really interesting projects selected this year which we will watch with interest. You can find a great summary by following the link below.

The customer is king – a view from a week of Smart Grid conferences

It has been a busy week on the Smart Energy conference agenda. With a Westminster Forum (UK future energy networks: next steps for smart grid development) event on Monday and the annual Low Carbon Networks fund conference on Tuesday and Wednesday. There were some great talks on the latest technological developments, policy and regulatory challenges and of course some difficult questions on energy prices.

A clear theme throughout was the importance of customer engagement as our grid and energy systems get smarter. There was a strong message from all the major stakeholders that customer engagement is the key to unlock many of the opportunities smart energy systems will create. For example, the customer led network revolution project is already demonstrating some very impressive take up rates, not just for smart meters but a whopping 94% who were given a variable tariff managed to shift their peak consumption; dispelling some of the current scare stories. Perhaps the most pertinent session was on the So La Bristol Project where one of the householders involved in the trial talked about how the project has engaged his whole family in how they now produce and consume energy.

Of course, customer centred design and development is nothing new, but is often overlooked. The various case studies presented over the last few days have shown that people were on the whole keen to engage in this area and that an early dialogue resulted in a better end result.Untitled

Perhaps of most significance is that early engagement is also a great opportunity to start the conversation about our changing energy system which will no doubt pay dividends later on down the line.

All the presentations will no doubt be put up on the ENA and Westminster forum websites shortly if you want to find out more.


Looking East – Smart grid and Smart energy for opportunities for European businesses

As the Smart Grid and Smart Energy markets begin to gear up it is unsurprising given their rapid growth that the Asian nations have both some of the most ambitions deployment plans for Smart Technologies, as well as some of the most extensive technology export opportunities.

South Korea is a case in point with their commitment to roll out a Smart grid across the peninsula by 2030. There is no doubt they will achieve this, partly due to their significant industry experience in this field, which, through working with a proactive government, enables them to make the necessary upfront investment. In China the numbers are quite astounding, accounting for a predicted 24% of the global market by 2020. However, unlike Korea, whilst China has a number of advanced technology companies the scale of their need will outstrip domestic supply.

These provide two very different opportunities for businesses in Europe:-DSCF2091

  • On the one hand Korean companies, many of whom are not well embedded in the EU market, will need local, innovative supply chain companies to help them bring their products to the EU.
  • Conversely the Chinese market which is so large and growing so rapidly that they need to pull in expertise and talent from across the globe to drive their transformation to a more knowledge intensive economy.

Tapping into these opportunities are not as difficult as it might first seem.

For example, as is often the case with large technology providers, the large Korean companies do not see smaller innovative companies as competition, quite the opposite collaboration is a key part of their business model.

In China there is a real drive to support inward investment with significant government incentives and IP protection, often linked to new high tech focal points such as the Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City project.

Whilst different European countries are undoubtedly making great progress in this area, with growth remaining stagnant the overseas opportunity is not to be missed. This is particularly pertinent as the same basic rules apply not just to Korea and China but to all the other counties who are either technology leaders or rapidly growing and modernizing societies.

Horizon 2020 – Smart Grid

With the recent preview from Europe of the 2014 & 2015 Horizon 2020 work plan we are really pleased to see the central place Smart Grid and Smart Energy has within the draft calls.horizon2020_0

Not only are there a number of calls specifically targeted to Smart grids and Smart Energy, it is a golden thread running through out the whole draft work programme.

What is also really exciting is the focus now being placed on supporting SME’s to engage with Horizon 2020. With bespoke funds specifically targeted to encourage small business from across Europe to engage.

We will have to wait until the 12th of December before the final work programme is published but as is often the case with such things it is unlikely to look much different.

We are already starting to develop our plans and partnerships, as the 2014 calls in particular, won’t give us much time to pull together ‘that killer proposal’.

Consumer engagement; the key to unlocking a Smart Energy economy?

P1010201 - Version 2Perhaps the most significant opportunity of moving to a Smart Energy system will lie with the consumer. A new Smart Energy system provides communities and businesses with opportunities for consumers to reshape their relationship with energy.

With the increasing costs of energy, re-engaging people and developing innovative tools to reduce and improve the use of energy is one of our most pressing issues. This might, however, be the toughest challenge of all.

A recent report by Smart Grid GB sets out some of the challenges and opportunities we face. What is clear from this work is there is a lot more to do.

We are undertaking some ground breaking work in this area with local communities and businesses and will be reporting on this as well as the great work that is going on around the globe. So watch this space.


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