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Smart energy could save the UK Billions - 4th March

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The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) envisages a smart energy revolution with more cables linking the National Grid to mainland Europe.

NIC also says the UK needs to store much more energy from intermittent renewable like wind and solar.

Experts believe it is the first step to a full-scale "Internet of Energy", with web-enabled home appliances like freezers and washing machines linked to the grid.

Here's how it would work: At a time of peak demand, an energy firm's computer will contact your smart freezer to ask if power can be switched off for a few minutes to allow your neighbour to use some of the energy to cook dinner. Your well-insulated freezer will stay cold without electricity for a while, so it will agree to power down.

Lord Adonis, chairman of the commission, said: "Our existing power stations are closing down and their replacements will be radically different as we de-carbonise supply to reduce emissions.

"This represents an enormous challenge, but it leaves the UK uniquely placed to benefit from exciting innovations set to transform the global electricity market.

"The UK can lead the world in harnessing these innovations. We do not call for new subsidies or significant public spending, but rather a level playing field through fairer regulation and a better managed network to allow these exciting new technologies to compete.

"If we get this right, a Smart Power Revolution could save consumers £8bn a year."

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