Ireland’s smart grid must put consumers first – real-time metering and cloud critical

2 Sep 2013

Ireland’s smart electricity grid with smart meters in every home will only be possible through consumer participation and backed by the feed of real-time energy information back to the cloud for analysis, UCD-based Energy Research Ireland (ERI) recommends. Recommendations include monetary rewards for communities, and web-based leaderboards and use of social media to get people on side with smart meters.

ENI 2013 is an interdisciplinary group based in the Electricity Research Centre at UCD (University College Dublin), consisting of 21 undergraduate students from universities throughout Ireland.

In research due to be revealed tomorrow at 6pm in the Clyde Court Hotel, Dublin, and attended by Fergus O’Dowd TD, Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, the researchers argue that consumer participation will make or break the rollout of smart meters in Ireland.

Future Human

They propose that the Commission for Energy Regulation introduces an incentive-based scheme to encourage suppliers to develop energy usage monitors that can access smart meter data via the cloud, as well as smart apps that synchronise smart meter to the cloud and to a consumer’s smartphone or tablet.

They believe this may have a significant impact on altering the electricity usage of Irish consumers.

Smart communities and smarter electricity pricing

ENI says that involving the public will be crucial and recommends an interactive energy consumption website around smart communities be established and the strong and effective use of social media.

They propose that the site includes a Household Leaderboard section, as well as a Community Leaderboard for commercial buildings and schools be established, with monetary rewards for communities that excel in energy savings.

The thorny issue of who pays for the smart meters was addressed in a recommendation that urges small instalments added to each customer’s electricity bill.

ENI proposes a ‘Time of Use’ tariff and recommends that consumers’ data is analysed by electricity suppliers and compared with existing bills one year in advance of starting the tariff.

Critical Peak Pricing and Peak-Time Rebates should be implemented in due course, they say.

The group recommends that the long-term end goal of price-based demand response is Real Time Pricing and recommend a staged approach to implementing the smart grid.

ENI also recommends that wind turbines should not be built on unexploited bog lands.

It also recommends two independent cost benefit analyses are conducted – a cost benefit analysis on domestic wind-energy generation on the Irish grid and another analysis into the export of wind energy from Ireland to the UK.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years