IBM, Cable & Wireless Kick Off UK Smart Energy Cloud


The data hub will gather information from smart meters across the country and distribute it to energy retailers

IBM and Cable & Wireless Worldwide on Monday announced a collaboration to develop a system called the UK Smart Energy Cloud, to support the British government’s target of rolling out more than 50 million smart meters across the UK.

The smart metering programme is part of a government strategy to cut carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

Easier switching

The system is intended to allow energy retailers to set up smart metering programmes without having to make large up-front investments in hardware, systems, staff or communications networks, IBM and C&W said.

The Energy Cloud will allow providers to switch meters inherited from other companies with no service disruption, making changing retailers easier and more transparent for consumers.

The system will be set up to gather data many times a day from any smart meter in the country and store it centrally in a secure, purpose-built, UK-based hosted cloud environment, the companies said.

Data can then be sent to energy retailers for assessment for providing more accurate bills. It will also be sent out to energy distributors, known as distribution network operators (DNOs), enabling smart grid functionality.

The Energy Cloud will be able to scale significantly without significant modifications, and will offer secure links to existing industry systems, IBM and C&W said.

The system is built on IBM’s WebSphere enterprise messaging infrastructure with an Informix time-series database and security, monitoring and management provided by Tivoli products. It uses a sideways-scalable, managed, virtualised infrastructure, IBM said.

Network platform

The Energy Cloud will use Cable & Wireless Worldwide’s network platform, which it has built up through the acquisitions of Energis, Thus and Your Comms. C&W has more than 1,100 network sites and more than 30,000 route kilometres of fibre wrapped around most of the earth wire of the UK’s energy transmission networks, C&W said.

But without intelligent management, smart meters will not provide the needed savings, according to Matt Key, Managing Director of Enterprise at C&W Worldwide.

“The challenge is for smart meters to reach the entire UK population and this will require a combination of enabling solutions, such as GPRS, radio and Power Line Carrier to make sure it’s cost effective,” he stated. “However, it is the network connecting it all and intelligent data management, that is central to the smart agenda’s success.”

IBM and C&W face competition from the likes of BT, Vodafone and Telefonica O2 UK which have all announced partnerships with infrastructure partners to bid for parts of the UK’s smart grid rollout.

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