Report says UK Smart Grid would boost economy

An Ernst & Young report claims that the UK government could inject £13bn ($21bn) into the economy and create around 10000 jobs if it decides to upgrade its power distribution network with smart grid technologies.

Smart grid proponents say the technology has the potential to transform the way electricity is generated, distributed and consumed just as the internet transformed the way the world communicates, reports Reuters.

"In addition to the direct economic benefits, we can also expect to see wider economic benefits to the UK, providing a welcome boost to growth, jobs and exports," Easton said in a statement. "These could include close to 10,000 new jobs and exports in excess of £5bn," he said, adding "overall, the report paints a compelling case in favour of smart grids."

But the report identifies challenges such as whether current or proposed government-backed schemes will deliver results, and that the adoption of smart grid technologies is likely to be slow, with little investment before 2023.

The government has made plans for every household and business fitted with a smart meter, a system to allow them to monitor their energy demand, by 2019. This target requires the replacement of some 53 million gas and electricity meters.

Robert McNamara, manager of SmartGrid GB, said the UK cannot afford to take a 'wait-and-see' approach if it wants to be a world leader in smart grid technology, as China, the United States and others are also developing similar systems. "Failure to deploy a smart grid will hamper development of clean tech industries and push up domestic electric costs," he said.

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