Smart meters offer platform for digital innovation, conference told

Claire Maugham, director of policy and communications at Smart Energy GB
Claire Maugham, director of policy and communications at Smart Energy GB

People in Scotland will have a once in a lifetime opportunity to transform the way they use and buy energy through the national rollout of smart meters, a major seminar heard yesterday.

Delegates at Smarter Scotland: Towards a Digital Nation heard leading experts talk about the future of smart technology in Scotland – in particular how homes and microbusinesses are to benefit from the changes that can come from a digitalised energy sector.

More than three million smart meters have already been installed across Great Britain, and by 2020 every household and microbusiness will have been offered an upgrade from their old gas and electricity meters.

Claire Maugham, director of policy and communications at Smart Energy GB, said: “Smart meters will not just bring an end to the absurdity of estimated bills and manual readings. They will help consumers to take control of their energy use by showing what is being spent on gas and electricity in pounds and pence, in near real-time.

“Our latest research findings in Smart Energy Outlook show that eight in ten people with a smart meter would recommend one and 80 per cent have already used their smart meter to take action to save energy.

“While smart meters will change consumers’ experiences of energy consumption, they will enable so much more than individual benefits. In Scotland, in particular, the wider benefits of the roll out will be significant.

“Smart meters will help to tackle some of the biggest challenges that Scotland faces, such as fuel poverty, inefficient homes and the drive towards a lower carbon footprint.”

The audience, composed of leading figures from Scotland’s business, property, academia, scientific and technology sectors, heard how smart meters will also allow for the a new digital platform for innovation in energy.

David Rowan, editor of WIRED Magazine (UK) said: “We are at the early stages of designing the interfaces through which consumers access smarter energy networks. But design will be transformative. Something as important as home energy usage is inevitably going to be transformed by the ubiquity of touch-screens, embedded sensors, data analytics. At the same time, innovators from outside the existing utilities are innovating and rethinking how we access, consume and generate energy - and how consumers feed energy back to the grid. All this needs smart meters.

“The data that we discover through smart meters will help us make decisions in ways that impact not just the environment but also our pockets.”

Dr Marilyn Lennon, senior lecturer in computer and information sciences at Strathclyde University, added: “Designed properly, and presented in the right way, information about our energy use can really change our behaviours. Being able to see cause and effect clearly and in engaging ways through a smart meter system might just be the key that unlocks more proactive and empowered energy users and consumers.”

Smarter Scotland: Towards a Digital Nation, held at University of Strathclyde’s Technology and Innovation Centre in Glasgow, featured presentations from David Rowan, Editor of WIRED magazine; Polly Purvis, Chief Executive, ScotlandIS; Ewen Gibb, Innovation and the Lab at Future Cities Catapult; and Dr Marilyn Lennon, Senior Lecturer in Computer and Information Sciences, Strathclyde University.

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