In early February, Awesense visited London, UK to participate in the 8th Smart Energy Europe & The Future Utility Summit. Perhaps not the best time of year to visit London, but we got lucky both with the weather and with some of the conversations we shared. We also had a great time at the awards ceremony.

While there were vendors and utility representatives from across Europe attending this event, it was our discussions with the UK industry locals that we found most enlightening. And just a note on that - we’d like to thank the BC Trade Commissioner representative, Graham Hilton who introduced us to a member of the Cabinet Office who in turn explained the subtleties of how the utility industry is structured in the UK.

Smart Meters in the UK

Smart meters are a very hot topic across the pond. By 2020, roughly 53 million smart meters (gas and electricity) will be installed at more than 30 million premises across the UK.

One intriguing thing we learned was how much more emphasis is placed on consumer behavior and time-of- use billing in the UK than here in North America. Indeed, that is one of the primary benefits the UK government cites to customers to support their national smart meter roll out. Here’s what British energy regulator OFGEM has to say about the program:

Smart meters offer a range of benefits for consumers. They:

  • Give you near real time information on your energy use – expressed in pounds and pence
  • Allow you to better manage your energy use (and can thereby help you save money and reduce emissions)
  • Will mean consumers get accurate bills - you will only be billed for the energy you actually use

A key part of the argument is that consumers, armed with better information will alter their behavior and shift their energy use pattern to times of lower demand – and hence lower cost. While that benefit is definitely talked about here, it’s not as front and center as in the UK.

Interestingly, reducing non-technical losses due to theft and inefficiencies doesn’t come up, despite it being a key business driver for utilities here in North America.

OFGEM has certainly recognized the problem of energy theft (even if smart meter promotions have stayed quiet on the subject). In 2014, they requiring suppliers of electricity and gas to “develop, maintain and operate a Theft Risk Assessment Service“ by February 29, 2016.

Awesense Wins IoT Award

The big highlight of the event was receiving the IoT Software and Tool Award at the European Smart Energy Awards on the final night of the summit. The independent panel of 19 judges included representatives from across the industry – utilities, vendors, consultants and academics including IBM, EDF, and many more.