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06 April 2022

A new UK-first research project to investigate and strengthen links between 5G platforms and the energy sector to improve flexibility and resilience, cut consumer costs and carbon emissions has been launched. The ‘Green, Connected and Prosperous Britain’ research Network Plus project is funded by a £1.1million grant from UKRI and will make recommendations to the energy companies and government over the next two years.

The UK’s energy sector is a powerful example of risks we face with our current energy system:

  • Most UK electricity grids which link power plants to homes/offices serve over 28million electricity points (smart meters & fuse boxes) are heavily centralised and often analogue-controlled. That means their facilities are brought online manually at times of peak demand creating major capacity risks increasing power cut risks at peak times e.g. in cold weather.

  • The problems renewable energy has in producing energy consistently at all hours of the day when used in centralised and analogue-controlled electricity grids. Achieving net-zero in UK will require widespread renewable energy use, but with a different approach so it can produce consistent energy at all hours of the day That means using the huge potential of smart technology to produce renewable energy consistently around the clock.

Increased use of 5G in the energy sector to replace the UK’s centralised analogue systems could lead to huge carbon emission savings and huge savings for consumers because:

  • 5G facilitates a radically different approach where people, buildings, cars etc no longer just use energy as ‘consumers’ but are enabled through smart technology to produce and offer energy back to the grid as ‘prosumers’. The huge increase in electric vehicle ownership and number of charging points near homes, offices and shops offers consumers the chance to provide as well as consume energy at a large scale for the first time. For example, instead of charging their car, a charging point owner could offer some of their charging time into the energy grid and be paid for the energy they sell. Doing this on a large scale could reduce peaks in demand through decisions made in communities and appropriate communications technology rather than by national centralised systems.

  • 5G and smart technology enables widespread renewable energy use by moving away from decisions taken by centralised analogue energy systems to a decentralised system which enables people and their buildings to produce renewable energy and sell it into the network.

  • Smart energy systems could save 7.7 billion tons of CO2 emissions, equivalent to over 23% of the global decarbonisation that is needed before 2050) compared to today's energy sector. The reductions are the result of changes in energy, mobility, transport and communications sector approach to change the way we score our net-zero goals.

A team of researchers led by Professor Sandra Dudley-McEvoy from London South Bank University (LSBU) with partners from three universities, (Professor Goran Strbac, Imperial College London, Professor Maziar Nekovee University of Sussex, Dr Kathryn Buchanan and Professor Riccardo Russo, University of Essex), will conduct a detailed research study over two years.

Sandra Dudley-McEvoy, Professor of Communication systems and Director of Research in LSBU’s School of Engineering, said, “Our £1.1 million research project will for the first time investigate how smart technology and 5G can cut consumer energy costs and carbon emissions. It’s vital we think in new ways about where we get our energy from and how it’s produced. If we don’t we risk increased financial costs and irreparable damage to our planet. One area our research network will study is how smart technology can be used to enable a decentralised network that assists people to produce and sell energy back into the grid, instead of just consuming energy from centralised systems. That could mean carbon emission cuts and savings in how much we spend on our energy bills.”

The ‘Green, Connected and Prosperous Britain’ research project will be holding the first of many meetings with large and small energy companies and technology leaders on April 19th 2022 to encourage collaboration and dialogue to cut energy costs. If you would like to attend please email: Daniela DeGiglio, Network Plus project manager:

Better use of 5G and smart technology in the energy system could provide greater security for energy supplies, using information on power availability in one part of the country could easily be used to deploy energy to another area that requires

Research by The Carbon Trust predicted smart energy systems enabling prosumer evolution and IoT deployment could prevent overbuild of capacity worth 16,000-terawatt hours of annual generation which, based on today's electricity prices, could save $1.9 trillion per year by 2050.

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