With the smart meter rollout aiming to be completed by 2020, time of use energy tariffs, using battery storage, and the creation of more energy gadgets seems possible — but only if other supporting technologies and efforts are in place. The latest plans from The Government and Ofgem have aimed to address this.
A policy paper, titled Upgrading our energy system: smart systems and flexibility plan states:
"By rolling out smart meters, enabling suppliers to offer smart tariffs, and harnessing the power of data communications in our home appliances and gadgets, we will make it easier for consumers to lower their bills."
Smart tariffs would be able to reward people with cheaper rates when others were less likely to be using energy, or even interact with appliances to turn on and off as required depending on cost. With the addition of storage batteries, homes could store their home-generated renewable energy or even stock up on energy from the grid when it's cheapest.
A lot of the barriers for enhancing smart energy offerings lie in Ofgem's licensing conditions. Changes are to be made to amend the current licensing conditions, and improve access to the market for smart businesses, enabling them to compete fairly and reduce costs for consumers.
This news has led some to believe that tech companies such as Google and Amazon may become more involved in consumer energy.
Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark, claims the plans are crucial for the future of energy in the UK:
"Upgrading our energy system to make sure it is fit for the future is a key part of our Industrial Strategy.
"A smarter energy system will create opportunities to reduce energy costs, increase productivity and put UK businesses in a leading position to export smart energy technology and services to the rest of the world."
Relaxing licensing conditions and allowing tech companies to become more involved in smart energy within the home could have some consumers worried about data privacy.
Companies and energy suppliers knowing when a household is using energy doesn't sit well with all, and these types of tariffs will inevitably raise questions on privacy and data security as plans evolve.
The Government and Ofgem have claimed they will ensure consumer interests are respected as new services are offered and new business models emerge as a result of smarter energy. They want to build on the principles of ensuring consumers are treated fairly, understand what they are buying and have their privacy protected.