New research hub for smart meters to be opened

It aims to supply government and consumers with data and advice on using the technology as well as provide a research base for industry and manufacturers

Festival Net Zero 2021

A new research hub for smart meters claimed to the first in the UK is to be launched next month.

The ‘Smart Meters>Smart Homes’ laboratory at the University of Salford aims to supply government and consumers with data and advice on using the technology as well as provide a research base for industry and manufacturers.

Researchers will explore how smart meters best work with the growing array of home technologies like energy storage devices, electric vehicle (EV) chargers, smart speakers and sensors.

Lead Researcher Professor Will Swan said: “Domestic energy systems are becoming more complex due to the advent of time-of-use tariffs, energy storage, renewables and a greater fluidity in the customer-supplier relationship.

“What we currently have is an explosion of tech – but little impact on common objectives like lowering bills, cutting carbon and customer satisfaction. It is vital that science provides some clarity around the benefits, possibilities and pitfalls of this new home energy technology for consumers, regulators and innovators.”

The news comes as the National Audit Office (NAO) recently warned the government will miss the 2020 deadline of installing smart meters in 56 million homes and businesses across the UK and that the cost of the rollout will likely escalate beyond initial expectations.

The government, however, expects the costs to be “more than offset” by cost savings for consumers and industry – Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry said nearly £17 billion worth of savings have been forecast and up to £40 billion worth of benefits will be delivered by a smarter system by 2050.

Dr Richard Fitton, Energy Efficiency Lecturer at the University of Salford, who also advises Parliament on home energy measurement, believes the smart meter infrastructure presents a “major new opportunity” for innovation in the UK.

He added: “We could see whole new categories of products and services that change the way we consume, produce and store energy, bringing potential benefits to consumers.”

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