UK government suddenly realises smart meters should link to appliances

THE UK GOVERNMENT has announced that it wants to use smart technology in the home to make households “at one” with the National Grid.

The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has been working with OFGEM, the energy regulator, to come up with a plan whereby your fridge could be told to cool its boots for ten minutes if there was a local power surge, or excess power generated by roof solar panels was sold back to the National Grid.

The announcement was laced with much thrills and excite about improved battery technology, meaning being able to store excess power for a rainy day, even when electricity and rain don’t mix anyway, dumbass.

As part of this, a £246m “Faraday Challenge” was launched to help teams come up with new ways of improving battery storage.

Here’s the problem, brainiacs. Big flagship policies like this are all very well, but you already sailed the ship. The disastrous rollout of smart meters has already begun and not only is the aim of 2020 for completion unlikely to be met, a whole bunch of them will have to be refitted at a later date because they don’t meet the common standard.

And getting things to talk to each other isn’t as easy as you’d expect at the best of times. Smart home devices are all using competing standards and most of them aren’t ruddy compatible as it is.

Meanwhile, smart meters, which would be the interface between the National Grid and your home, run on a mixture of SIM cards (WHY? SERIOUSLY? WHY?) and Zigbee. Now, Zigbee is a common standard. Problem is, the National Grid standard requires it to be made incompatible with other Zigbee devices for security reasons.

Imagine if we could just hook our meters into our SmartThings, or Homey or WeMo rigs from the outset? But nope. Nothing doing. There are devices like Smappee which hook around the meter and take a reading of the electrical “signature” which is designed to do the same job, but that works on a completely different standard. Yes. Another one.

So whoopee-do to the government for recognising the potential for energy management using the smart home. Really. Well Done. Brilliant.

Trouble is, as with most of these things, it’s been announced by people who have no idea what it means in the real world and have already pre-borked it. Sigh. µ