Energy ministry D-ESNZ today launches a view-seeking exercise, aimed at boosting users’ confidence in adopting smart devices for workplaces and homes.  Embedding power flexibility in consumers’ minds is an intended extra benefit.

New proposals set out in a consultation today seek to shape minimum product standards for energy smart appliances, and minimum levels underpinning cyber security & grid stability.

Smart appliances enable consumers to manage their energy use to benefit from cheaper tariffs at times of low electricity demand. A smart charge point, for example, can be programmed to wait for a period of low-demand overnight to charge an EV.

Devices using even minimal amounts of electricity – such as heat pumps and home EV chargers –offer great flexibility potential for time-shifting, easing network load away from peak hours. The latest consultation assess how and if home appliances might be required by law to offer smart functionality.

Besides creating technical & regulatory frameworks, the government’s Smart Secure Electricity Systems (SSES) programme is designed to further to decarbonisation of Britain’s electricity system in a way that protects consumers and the grid.

Running until 11 June, this latest consultation builds on 2022’s Delivering a smart and secure electricity system consultation and the government’s response.

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D-ESNZ’s latest proposals portray smart devices’ capability as offering savings as high as £50 billion collectively in the decades to 2050.   Besides lower network investment, officials claim the use of smart systems and flexibility could create 10,000 jobs and increase GDP by up to £1.3 billion over the same period.  A further 14,000 jobs could be created by exporting the technology.

Lord Callanan, minister for energy efficiency and green finance, pictured, said:  “Smart devices mean consumers with a smart meter can easily use the cheapest tariffs to charge their car or heat their home.

“These latest measures will help families get the best deal through their smart device and could help save up to £50 billion by 2050 – meaning lower bills for families, while supporting up to 24,000 jobs across UK”.

Proportionate standards will be set for organisations providing smart energy services, giving consumers the power to easily compare services whilst ensuring they are not unfairly locked in or out of contracts, and preventing the mis-selling of services.

Officials say the government’s plans under SSES also address the problem of some tariffs only working with certain brands of appliance. This will ensure that appliances like EV smart charge points and smart heat pumps can work with any supplier or tariff, making it easier for consumers to access the best deals regardless of what device they have.

More active user engagement in power supply – and less passive bill paying every month – will be another benefit, observers believe.

“Public participation in our energy system is not a ‘nice to have’ but an absolute imperative to reach Net Zero in a cost-effective and secure manner”, Sarah Honan, policy head at The Association for Decentralised Energy commented:

“Following the first consultation and the passage of the Energy Act, this publication marks another important step towards unlocking the value of demand flexibility through smart-as-standard devices and competitive customer offerings from a range of service providers. We applaud the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero for continued leadership, agility, and pragmatism in devising regulations fit for the future of this burgeoning industry.

Though they are not the same thing, flexible operation of smart appliances is supported by smart meters. Over half of British homes already have smart meters, meaning they can access cheaper, off-peak energy tariffs which can save households on average £900 a year, according to D-ESNZ estimates.

The measures also include a legal requirement to treat consumers fairly and require service providers to have a consumer complaints process in line with that required for energy suppliers, as well as access to a redress process. Government will also reduce the barriers to those switching providers and strengthen cybersecurity and data protection requirements for all smart energy providers.

Further details are here.


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