CBI Urges UK To Back Smart Meters

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But security concerns may force the government to take a slower approach

The CBI has become the latest organisation to back the deployment of smart meters and grids in the UK, but says the government must do more to back the technology.

In a series of climate change reports released this week, with the overall title Going The Distance, the CBI put forward greater use of smart metering technology as one solution to improving energy efficiency in the housing sector.

According to the CBI, which represents the interests of UK businesses, despite the government announcements supporting smart meters including a commitment to install a device in every home by 2020, the organisation claims there has been little progress to date.

“The meters would allow accurate bills and better information about energy use, allowing consumers to take steps to reduce it. Rapid deployment of these meters will be key to influencing consumer behaviour,” the report claims.

But despite the pressing need to deploy the technology, security issues have emerged recently which raise questions about how soon smart metres and grids could be deployed. Last month, researchers from US security consultancy IOActive created a worm that could spread from one smart metering device to another thanks to the wireless technology that is used to connect them, according to reports.

When asked for comment on how the security researchers findings could impact government plans to roll-out smart meters, the UK Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said security will be critical to any widespread deployment of the technology.

Smart meters are end-user devices that monitor electricity usage and can be used by home owners and businesses to more accurately measure their power usage. Combined with other technology in electricity distribution systems, smart meters can be used to create so-called smart grids and are a major part of government plans to meet carbon emissions targets.

It is not only households and businesses which the CBI believes could benefit from better metrics about energy usage. The organisation is also calling for “smart” dashboards that indicate when to change gear to be fitted as standard in all new cars in order to cut carbon emissions.

John Cridland, CBI deputy director-general, said it was up to the UK government to create the right environment for green IT and other innovations to flourish. “Achieving all of this in the ambitious timeframe that has been set will require massive investment of private capital, much of it from abroad. But this will only be forthcoming if there is certainty about the direction of government policy, a robust price for carbon, a clear planning and regulatory structure, the right regime for tax and intellectual property, and the skills that will be needed to bring all this new kit to market,” he said.