National Grid chief hails smart energy revolution

Nicola Shaw, the new UK executive director at National Grid, has said that a “smart energy revolution” could help avoid blackouts.

Shaw said that advances in technology – such as connecting dishwashers, fridges and washing machines to the “internet of things” – would help to reduce the demand for electricity.

Lowering demand could reduce the need for the UK to build conventional power stations, she said.

While acknowledging that the UK would need to build some gas-fired power stations, Shaw said 30-50% of power grid fluctuations could be smoothed out if businesses and households adjusted their peak-time demands.

‘Real revolution’

Shaw told the BBC News website: “We are at a moment of real change in the energy industry.

“From an historic perspective we created energy in big generating organisations that sent power to houses and their businesses.
“Now we are producing energy in those places – mostly with solar power.

“All of that is a real revolution… a smart energy revolution that’s changing the way we think about energy across the country.”

GMB criticism

But Shaw’s comments were criticised by the GMB trade union.

Justin Bowden, GMB National Secretary, said: “Avoiding winter blackouts with a ‘smart energy’ revolution is fanciful nonsense, the smart grid is years away.

“What is needed to guarantee the lights stay on over the coming winters are new power stations and the go-ahead for Hinkley Point C would be a start given that the coal fired stations are due to close next week.”

> Read Shaw's interview with the BBC

> Read our report into the battery storage revolution

> Read our latest blog "What's next for EFR?"