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Adam Gillert, a senior associate in Bird & Bird's Commercial Group, advises on technology rich areas involving the commercialisation of intellectual property rights and other complex technology projects and is a founder of Bird & Bird's smart grids blog. Here Adam explores the background to smart grids in Britain and certain opportunities and challenges key industry players may face.
Britain's electricity sector currently faces a host of challenges, including:
The "smart grid" agenda focuses on helping to overcome such challenges by using advanced information and communications technology to achieve improved outcomes and lower costs for consumers.
For decades even the most innovative electricity markets have relied on the legacy of last century’s technology. Smarter grids are now high on the agenda of many of the world’s governments and leading companies. Smarter grids are being encouraged by a variety of investments, initiatives and policy changes such as the EU’s Third Energy Package, national legislation and local efforts focusing on creating smarter cities and communities. Under current plans, by 2020 around 53 million gas and electricity smart meters will have been rolled out to homes and small businesses in Britain as part of a Smart Metering Implementation Programme. Those smart meters will be able to inform domestic consumers how much energy they are using through a display in their homes and communicate directly with energy suppliers (removing the need for meter readers to visit premises in the future).
A smarter grid has two mutually re-enforcing foundations:
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