The Department of Energy and Climate Change has signed a contract with Accenture for consultancy on the planning and rollout of electricity smart grids.
Accenture will analyse the current electricity grid network, providing an assessment of the UK’s readiness to adopt the relevant IT systems and services. It will also help the DECC draw up a business case around the financial viability and infrastructure benefits of a move to the technology.
The government is looking at the use of smart grids to help reduce carbon emissions. The systems aim to help utility firms manage different sources of renewable energy, including from wind farms and biomass plants, as well as helping distribute electricity effectively to cut wastage of generated power.
Smart grids may also, in the long run, enable consumers to return back to the grid any power they generate at home.
The DECC had not responded at the time of writing to inquiries about the cost or duration of the contract. Accenture declined to comment on that information.
Omar Abbosh, managing director at Accenture’s resources operating group, said smart grids will play a “central” part in helping the UK meet its “ambitious” carbon reduction targets.
The supplier is also working on similar strategies in Europe, Asia and the US, and runs a community called the Intelligent City Network where different cities and companies around the world can share smart grid knowledge.
But smart grids have also attracted security fears, after the existing legacy electricity grid in the US became the victim of hackers in April. Security experts said at the time that having a smart grid, with two-way communication, could open up new threats.
Two weeks ago, a US cyber security coordination task force released a report highlighting the need for planners to address threats that could potentially allow attackers to penetrate a future smart grid there, gain access to control software, and alter load conditions to cause widespread disruption.