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The move to a smart grid will have massive changes in the way commercial electricity is supplied and consumed. Businesses should get ready for these changes now.
To bring electricity into the 21st century, a ‘smart grid’ uses computer-controlled two-way communication technology and computer processing to link power plants, renewables generation like solar and wind, storage facilities like pumped hydro, and consumer and business users of electricity.
By better matching demand and usage, a smart grid can increase efficiency, meaning that the amount of surplus electricity can be reduced and the unwieldly turning on or off of power generators can be avoided.
Wind power, solar and hydropower energy cannot be turned on or off at will so a smart grid is needed to address the inevitable gluts or droughts of renewable electricity. The growing popularity of solar panels and other forms of small-scale renewables, UK SMEs will become net power generators, at least for part of the time.
The nature of power generation is rapidly changing with an increasing proportion of ‘green energy’ and users becoming producers. Usage is also evolving through smart meters and better energy efficiency. Both supply and demand side markets need to become more flexible.
Building such a system is a priority for the EU. Miguel Arias Cañete, EU Commissioner for Climate Action & Energy, said that “Innovative smart grids are central to [the] vision of … an integrated energy market”, for making the EU “world number one in renewables”, and ensuring that energy supply can meet demand.
“They allow energy to keep flowing where and when it’s needed, they make the best use of renewable energy sources, and they can keep infrastructure costs and … energy bills down. We know smart grids work. We have seen that they can reduce the infrastructure capacity needed to meet demand by up to 30%.”
Nevertheless, there are regulatory, technological, financial, or organisational hurdles to overcome.
The Distribution System will have to evolve using a variety of solutions, including storage and demand management. The latter alone has the potential to save €100 billion per year, almost €200 for every citizen in Europe. Better interconnection between countries, as is already beginning to happen, will also be important.
Cañete underlined the important of electricity smart metering to the smart grid: “Coupled with smart metering systems, smart grids help consumers adapt their energy usage to different energy prices throughout the day and save money on their energy bills by consuming more energy in lower price periods.”
He called for “timely roll-out of fit-for-purpose smart metering systems”, aiming to cover almost three quarters of European households and businesses by 2020.
To companies searching for cheaper business electricity, the development of a Europe-wide smart grid potentially offers a secure, cheap commercial electricity supply. But the obstacles, while not insurmountable, may take a decade or more to overcome.
In the meantime, the easiest way for the UK’s small to medium sized businesses to get better priced commercial energy and/or better service is to compare business electricity suppliers. SwitchMyBusiness.com focuses on the UK SME market so can offer a comprehensive, no-obligation comparison of tariffs and switch you to a new electricity supplier. Just complete the form at the top right of this page or call 0330 010 0251.
"Very easy. Bea Luseni very efficient & knowledgeable."This review was posted by Alan Duffy on the 31st of March 2017
Super helpful and easy to work with
"Recommend this company in a heartbeat - Nicole Borneuf was super easy to talk to, was not pushy in the slightest, very helpful and replied with all my questions very professionally and did all she could to help. I had to deal with a few companies to sort my business energy out, all but Nicole were too pushy for my liking and I refused to follow through with them. Thank Nicole - you are a credit to your company, thank you for making the stressful energy change so easy."This review was posted by Mia Drew on the 29th of March 2017
An Extremely Competent Company
"Switch my business has not only helped my SME secure a good energy deal for the second year running but Jessica swiftly found a alternative supplier for me when I was let down on the day of switching by the new contractual provider I had chosen some 4 months previously. Being suddenly out of contract and without provider is everyone's energy nightmare. Greatest thanks."This review was posted by S McMillan on the 29th of March 2017
Helpful, friendly and we saved lots of money!
"Jessica Purnell was helpful and friendly, she made the whole process easy and simple AND we saved lots of money thanks Jess"This review was posted by Melanie Baker on the 23rd of March 2017
Quick & Easy
"Kabibi was very helpful and the whole process was very efficient. The one small reservation I had was that I was phoned up by Kabibi almost immediately having received my online quote - which wasn't enough time for me to finish reading the quotes! Fortunately she was able to assist me in a greater savings on both Gas & Electricity, and so as long as the switchover is seamless I will remain very happy with the service."This review was posted by Amanda Brown on the 21st of March 2017