By Maximilian Clarke

The UK energy industry is gearing for the single biggest revolution since coal gas was replaced by clean burning North Sea natural gas, Energy Minister Charles Hendry today (Thursday) said.

The introduction of some 53 million smartmeters to more than 30 million homes and businesses is a key priority for the Coalition Government, and it is hoped that by providing accurate, real-time information of electricity and gas usage, homes can repond, helping to reduce their energy usage and cut emissions.

The move will also generate thousands of green jobs and mark a significant investment in the green economy.

“In the Coalition Programme for Government we said that the rollout of smart electricity and gas meters to homes and smaller businesses is a key priority, forming a key part of action to cut greenhouse gas emissions, decarbonise the economy and support the creation of new green jobs and technologies,” said Minister Hendry in a speech delivered to the Smart Metering Forum.

“But this is a huge and challenging project, being the largest changeover programme in the energy industry since the introduction of North Sea gas about 40 years ago. It will consist of the installation of about 53 million meters in Great Britain, and involving visits to some 30 million homes and businesses. Over the lifetime of the project, that means that on average suppliers will need to install more than 100,000 meters a week.”

The Government’s Impact Assessments estimate that the total cost of the roll-out programme will be around £11.7 billion pounds. Although comparisons are difficult, that’s the equivalent of building two nuclear reactors. And it’s significantly more than the funding package for the 2012 Olympics.

Smart meters have already been rolled out in a number of countries, including the USA, Canada, Australia and in Europe, Italy and Sweden.

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