View all news

Smart Grid - hope or hype?

Press release issued: 28 November 2012

The Smart Grid will be the focus of a free public lecture taking place at the University of Bristol tomorrow [Thursday 29 November].

The Smart Grid will affect everyone but what new energy services will be developed and, as multiple energy sources come along, will the choices made now for this infrastructure be the right ones? This debate will be the focus of a free public lecture taking place at the University of Bristol tomorrow [Thursday 29 November].

Jon Z Bentley, Partner, Energy and Environment IBM Global Business Services in UK and Ireland, will discuss the characteristics and essential elements of a Smart Grid and offer a definition of what should - and should not - be considered a Smart Grid. 

The speaker will explore the role of Smart Grids in our society in the future, the drivers for adopting the technologies, the benefits anticipated and the challenges in realising these. Social and market changes are as important as technical implementations, and Jon will look at what might be needed to bring about Smart Grids in the UK, especially given the unique structure of our energy markets, and at some of the potential pitfalls.

The lecture will be illustrated with examples of successful, innovative projects as well as drawing lessons from those that have encountered difficulties, especially where problems have arisen as a result of the impact on customers. In the last section, the lecture will ask how Smart Grids might evolve and whether some more radical changes in the energy market could dramatically change this course.  Jon’s focus will be on the end-to-end nature of Smart Grids and the impact they have, and will have, on the energy system and its participants and customers rather than on the detail of the electrical and information technologies involved.

The energy infrastructure is one of the most critical parts of the infrastructure of any developed or developing country. It has been largely unchanged for over 60 years and has generally proven to be reliable, resilient and able to flex to meet ever increasing energy needs. This infrastructure is about to change dramatically towards the Smart Grid through an unparalleled integration of communication and information technologies integrated with the energy systems.  Work is already underway to answer questions such as where and how power is generated; how the various component parts of the energy system are connected; and how the energy generated and distributed by this infrastructure is used. Significantly, for the first time, energy consumers will be able to interact directly and in real-time with the energy system.

The University of Bristol, and specifically the Communication Systems and Networks Research Group, is driving the research into communication system solutions to enable the faster interactions required for the Smart Grid subsystems. This work is being undertaken as part of a multi university and industry £4.7 million project funded by EPSRC to provide research leadership in energy networks.

The Colston Research Society Annual Lecture entitled Smart Grid - Hope or Hype?, organised by the Public and Ceremonial Events Office, will take place on Thursday 29 November at 6 pm in the Great Hall, Wills Memorial Building, Queen’s Road, Bristol.  Admission is free.  To reserve a place visit or contact Nicola Fry on tel (0117) 928 8515.


Further information

The Colston Research Society was founded in 1899 as the ‘University College Colston Society’, by a body of Bristol citizens who wished to assist the University College. From 1908 to 1948 it applied its resources in grants towards specific research projects in various departments of the University. The Society has been supporting symposia since 1948.
Edit this page