Smart Grids in the UK will require a “more holistic” approach to infrastructure, says the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), a lobby group for British business.

At a fringe meeting today at the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool, Rhian Kelly of the CBI revealed that a recent survey it carried out found that 39 per cent of UK companies feel that Britain’s energy infrastructure has deteriorated in the last five years.

This perception could be turned around if large-scale engineering works factored in smart technology, she said. As an example, smart cabling could be installed during construction of a planned new rail network between London and the north of England, she added.

Gavin Jones, chairman of Smart Grids UK, echoed this view, adding that population trends are presenting challenges to Smart Grid development.

“People are moving to cities: 50 per cent of the world’s population now live in cities,” he said. “That’s more than ever before and the hardest place to put in new power is in cities. We have to find new ways to get more out of our infrastructure.”

And the need to fast-track Smart Grid development was stressed by Dave Openshaw, of the UK Energy Networks Association, who branded the current electricity distribution networks as “fit and forget” systems.

“They are not an affordable solution for the future,” he said.

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