Recent events clearly show that, in line with global trends, Isle of Man residents believe we should be taking firm and fast measures to address the emergency in which we find ourselves. In accordance with our island’s commitment to tackling climate change, Manx Utilities are looking for ways to help decarbonise our shared home. Some of the benefits listed below can be realised outright with the introduction of smart metering. Others unlock a huge potential for future change, where innovation coupled with community engagement can bring about a much greener island (and world).

Smart meters are the first step in changing the way we all think about energy. They will allow us to track and record not only how much electricity we use, but also when we use it. We, as consumers, will be able to review our consumption habits and introduce behaviour changes that can help reduce both our bills and carbon footprint. Even if these changes are small and the resulting effect seems insignificant on an individual level, the cumulative effect to the community will be vast.

Smart metering is setting the scene for a paradigm shift in our relationship with the environment, including electricity generation and consumption. Consumers are increasingly turning into 'prosumers' – generating their own electricity and feeding back into the grid, as well as consuming. There is an ever-increasing demand for more sustainable energy sources and greener technologies. In order for Manx Utilities to maintain an efficient and reliable network that will enable the uptake of renewable sources of energy, we need to understand in detail the demands on that network. Timely surveillance of how much renewable energy is connected to the grid will assist us in matching supply with demand and safely introduce new generation sources. For example, more and more people are considering acquiring an electric car, so our future energy systems need to be smarter and accommodate smart charging for electric vehicles.

Read Smart Energy GB's article for more information about the role of electric vehicles in helping to enable a smarter future.

With data on quantity and time of electricity consumption provided by smart meter technology, Manx Utilities can plan and forecast better. Analysis of such data and engagement with the public could help us flatten the peaks in demand by either reductions in energy consumption or redistributing the load throughout not-so-busy periods. New products and incentives could be devised aiming to spread consumption evenly throughout all hours of the day and night. Even - or flatter - consumption will remove the necessity to maintain carbon-heavy extra capacities. It would reduce the auxiliary costs and environmental impact upon, for instance, staff and buildings, maintaining extra turbines and generators, and having to upgrade and replace them. Environmental benefits could also be achieved through avoided power purchases and plant construction.

See a short video on how power grids are changing by Western Power Distribution.

Smart data will give Manx Utilities deeper and more detailed information about the electricity network and allow us to deploy fact-based solutions rather than act on predictions and calculated assumptions. It will allow us to be proactive not reactive, and avoid non-essential construction, maintenance and repairs. It will further reduce our carbon footprint by eliminating manual meter reading and reducing site visits by using smart-meter-supported service enhancements.

Smart data is the precursor of incentives for environmental stewardship and responsibility to shape a brighter future. Smart metering will be the cornerstone of an efficient distribution network aimed at environmental quality and intergenerational equity.

When that happens, we all win.