According to a new report, the initial investment for smart grid development could be moving forward sooner rather than later, with the benefits outweighing the risks.
The creation of a smart grid could provide a welcome boost for growth, jobs and exports with between 8,000 and 9,000 projected to be sustained through to the 2030’s.
The report entitled Smart Grid: A race worth winning? was prepared for SmartGrid GB by Ernst & Young and is claimed to provide the most detailed assessment yet of the potential benefits that might accrue to the British economy as a result of the development of smart grid.
The report shows that £23 billion will need to be spent between now and 2050 to upgrade the distribution network, but this is significantly cheaper than the £46 billion spend to pursue a conventional investment strategy in grids.
The savings from smart grids are expected to remain as high as £10 billion, even if only achieving low levels of decarbonisation/electricfication happen.
The report also notes that some elements of the benefits that smart meters have promised to deliver could be at risk without the parallel development of smart grids. The timely roll out of smart grid could therefore also be important from the perspective of recouping the cost and realizing the full benefits from smart metering.
“The case for pushing forward the development of smart grid in Britain is compelling and has probably been underestimated by previous studies,” say the SmartGrid GB Executive Committee in the foreword. “But there is a long way to go to make smart grid a reality across the country and without further policy certainty, appropriate regulatory incentives, and more investment, Britain could quickly fall behind in what will be a new global growth market and a source of prosperity and jobs for years to come.”
The report explored possible solutions to the challenges associated with developing the smart grid infrastructure, and recommends some fresh thinking from the regulator, industry and the government.