Smart grid project unveiled

Published:  17 December, 2010

UK: A £54m project for Britain's largest smart grid project involving 14 000 homes and businesses has been launched.

The programme will focus on the North East and Yorkshire, putting the region and major cities such as Durham, Leeds, Newcastle and Sheffield at the forefront of the UK's transition to a low carbon society.

It will test the impact of new low carbon technologies, such as electric cars and solar panels on the electricity grid and extend the lessons to whole of the UK, using data from more than 160 000 smart meters.

The project is a partnership between British Gas, CE Electric UK, Durham University and EA Technology. It aims to lay the foundations for helping British homes and businesses cut their carbon footprint, reduce their energy use and save money on a large scale.

The partners are seeking £28m from Ofgem's Low Carbon Networks Fund, set up to support smart grid projects. The project team will work with household names to test new technology on the electricity grid. Companies in discussion with the project consortium include GE, Panasonic and Nissan.

If Ofgem agrees to contribute to the project, work would begin in early 2011. The technology would be installed later that year.

British Gas will be responsible for recruiting and supporting customers involved in the trial. It will install smart meters in customers' homes to capture the data from the trial and will install other technologies such as solar panels and heat pumps.

Phil Bentley, managing director of British Gas, said: "With tough climate targets to meet, and volatile wholesale energy markets, it is vital that Britain makes the transition to a low carbon economy – and no single company has all the answers.

"British Gas is leading the way in smart meters in smart homes, but now we're teaming up with a unique set of partners who will help deliver the largest smart grid project the UK has seen."

If successful, knowledge gained from the project could hasten the installation of low carbon technology, saving homes and businesses around £8bn in energy costs and 43 million tonnes of carbon emissions. 

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