UK and Taiwan form smart-grid partnership

A UK delegation representing companies including British Gas, BT and Vodafone this week said a new smart-grid partnership with Taiwan could help to generate more than £13 billion ($20.8 billion) in economic benefits and £5 billion in smart-grid exports for the UK economy.

The UK Smart Grid mission has been visiting Taiwan this week to establish industry and academic links with the country.

A UK delegation representing companies including British Gas, BT and Vodafone this week said a new smart-grid partnership with Taiwan could help to generate more than £13 billion ($20.8 billion) in economic benefits and £5 billion in smart-grid exports for the UK economy.

The UK Smart Grid mission has been visiting Taiwan this week to establish industry and academic links with the country.

British Gas, which has sent two experts as part of the delegation, hopes to sign agreements to buy energy performance contracts, external LED street lights, next-generation insulation, Zigbee devices and smart-homes technology.

“Research suggests that implementation of smart grids in the UK will generate more than £13 billion in economic benefits and UK smart grid exports could be worth more than £5 billion,” said David Campbell, director of the British Trade and Cultural Office. “As Taiwan is a global technological leader, we are keen to work with Taiwan to develop further links and realise these business opportunities.”

Campbell was citing research commissioned from Ernst and Young, which also believes some 10,000 new high-skilled jobs could be created by the UK smart grid sector and that UK energy suppliers could save as much as £19 billion by using smart-grid technology to upgrade the power network.

Meanwhile, Cornwall Council, a member of the mission, has signed a Protocol of Collaboration with Penghu County in Taiwan to share information and jointly promote research and development efforts in the areas of smart grids, renewable energy and enabling technologies.

Cornwall has already received about £500 million in EU funding to deploy a county-wide smart-grid and is commissioning a smart-grid test bed in Wadebridge, a community of 10,000 residents that generates renewable energy.

“Penghu and Cornwall are pioneering the roll out of Smart Grids in Taiwan and the UK,” said Robert McNamara, the mission leader and executive director of SmartGrid GB, an industry group. “This Protocol paves the way for the two counties to share their experiences, research and expertise, helping to ease the rollout process in both counties and beyond.”

SmartGrid GB was founded by a number of companies involved in the smart-grid market, including British Gas (Staines, UK), BT (London, UK), Cable & Wireless (London, UK), UK Power Networks (London, UK) and Vodafone (Newbury, UK).

UK authorities want smart meters to be installed in more than 53 million homes by the end of 2020, with total funding of around £8.6 billion. The scheme is expected to generate more than £14.6 billion in savings over a 20-year period.