Amidst all the nonsense in the news about Smart Meters, most media commentators seem to be wearing consumer fitted blinkers.

People outside the energy industry are often only dimly aware of the changes taking place to the UK’s energy landscape. Change is almost too small a word. I really need something bigger. Leviathan change? Cataclysmic change? Either would be more accurate, as what we inside the market see happening is the biggest changes since the present electricity grid was started in 1926.

Since 2010, the renewable energy market has constructed more than 13GW of solar and 20GW of wind power, and can generate more than 50% of national demand on a good day.

This is not generation on the old model: central power stations feeding to localised consumers. It’s distributed, with local generation and local consumption. The days of huge power stations are over.

Smart meter

When EV’s begin to join the grid in volume, there’s a problem: if we try to mirror a motorway service area filling station, but for EV’s, the power just isn’t there. Five Tesla’s wanting a quick (20min) “fill-up” would need more than 800 kW, so the rest of the service station would have to be switched off to accommodate them. That’s not going to happen, so either new grid supplies (expensive) will be necessary (and remember that large central generation will be a diminishing resource) or large scale storage must be interposed between the grid and the cars. This is already happening, with commercial charging stations backed by container(s) of batteries.

Now look at the domestic side: the same charging needs will exist. A typical house can’t install a charger larger than 7.5kW, which as EV capacities increase, will mean only overnight charging is possible. There’s then the question of local supply availability. Everyone in the street charging at the same time at 7.5kW? Not going to happen.

So the grid will need to take control of your house! You plug in, but your local DSO will decide when and how much you can charge. Now put some solar on the roof, and a decent size energy storage system in, and the situation changes. You’re  more in control and may even be able to do some more rapid charging. . . . .but you’re going to want some compensation for being controlled by the grid.

If you’re not charging, and you don’t need your car tomorrow (you have told it that), why can’t your car charge someone else’s? It will be able to, it just needs some legislation and some time . .  .and a SMART Meter! Otherwise when you’re exporting, you won’t get paid.

So we will all need Smart meters. Just a pity that an incompetent government never required a future proof standard.

It will happen.