Smart Gris for SMEs

16 Oct 2013

BEAMA co hosted an event with private equity company, Inflexion, focused on the future of the Smart Grid market and opportunities for SMEs and start ups in the UK and abroad. The event highlighted the unprecedented change that will be required to develop the UKs energy infrastructure to support the development of a low carbon economy. The scale of investment being made today and over the next 10-20 years in smart grid infrastructure globally is huge, generating tremendous opportunities for new products and services.

Jonathan Spencer from UKTI provided an informative overview of the markets in India and China and the opportunities for UK business in these Emerging Markets. China’s New Energy Plan outlines significant investment in renewable energy and smart grid, estimated at £470billion by 2020 including objectives to increase offshore wind capacity. UKTI have assessed opportunities for UK business in the growing smart grid market in India, with expected large scale investment in EV infrastructure and smart metering, at approximately £123 million PA. UKTI are working to assist UK business to develop these opportunities and BEAMA will continue to liaise with UKTI going forward.

DECC and Ofgem outlined the opportunities in the UK, with a breakdown of the funding available through innovation projects as part of the existing Low Carbon Network Fund and future funding streams outlined for ED1.

Hearing from Simon Brooke from Electricity Northwest, it is clear the uptake of low carbon technologies presents huge challenges for network operators and great uncertainty with regards to how we develop a UK smart grid. Finding the right solutions for UK networks is key and partnerships with the vendor community will be essential in developing innovations for UK smart grids, with tremendous opportunities for new products and services.

Organisations like BEAMA, the Technology Strategy Board and the Energy Innovation Centre will play a key role in developing relationships with industry and supporting innovation in the market, especially for SMEs and start ups and ensuring these opportunities are accessible.

The morning sessions highlighted the need to ensure customers get value for money and benefit from smart grid investments and there is a recognised need for industry to look at how the customer will be engaged and incentivised to buy into the smart grid. Cornwall Development Council provided an interesting overview of smart grid investment in Cornwall and new models for energy ownership, whilst picking up on the lack of understanding amongst consumers with regards to smart energy systems.

It is recognised that while there are significant opportunities for SMEs in this market, there are also risks, and financing innovation at project level doesn’t always translate to a sustainable and reliable market for related products and services. The risks associated with the level of ongoing commitment to these new products and services makes investors apprehensive and therefore discourages a lot of SMEs entering into the market. How industry develops a supply chain to deliver the needs of the smart grid market in the face of such uncertainty is a clear challenge.

BEAMA are looking to ensure SMEs are supported in this growing market, and with significant opportunities to develop new products and services for the UK and international markets it is vital companies have clear visibility how to access finance, and continued support. BEAMA will therefore continue to take this work forward and taking the feedback from the event to build a membership structure that suits SMEs and addresses barriers to market.

For more information contact BEAMA Smart Grid Co-ordinator yselklaf@beama.org.uk