Re: Auto Switching
"BUT i thought one of the goals of this smart meter roll out was to reduce peak demand so BEEEEELIONS don't need to be spent on new generating capacity as old coal fires stations go off line."
That's a subsidiary goal for smart meters - the overall belief of DECC is that they will magically reduce your total energy demand, reduce carbon and Save The Planet. Because, as with Paedo-druggy-terrorists, the job of government is to save us from something or anything. Whilst DECC don't like it, we'll always have system peaks, so there's some significant need for plant with low load factors. The hair-raising unit costs of real peaking plant that runs twice a year looks astronomical on paper, averaged over all energy consumption across the year it is piffling. This peaking cost will increase because of the idiot-conceived energy policy, but it still won't be umanageable (although the ever growing open and sudden subsidies for wind, solar, biomass may become unmanageable).
and that will be achieved by peak rate pricing so rates will no longer be fixed year round tariff.
That's a possible outcome. But unfortunately the War Against Peak Demand is (like the war on drugs) yesterday's war, and yesterday's lost war to boot. Looking forward, the eejuts of government plan to "decarbonise" transport and heating. At total energy volumes this means they are looking to at least double UK electricity demand (even assuming big efficiencies in heating and electric vehicles). After the closure of 12GW of coal plant under LCPD, and with something like 5-7 GW of older nuclear plant closing by 2023, there's an enormous squeeze coming in the mid to late 2020's that won't be fixed even if they build 3GW of over-priced French tat at Hinkley Point.
What this will mean is that transport and heating loads have to be scheduled to fit into off peak periods, because otherwise the peak demand on a winter evening would melt the system (even the old pre-renewables system). But you then have the problem that there will be huge random swings in electricity generation from all their stupid solar PV and wind, but that then starts to set random whole sale pricing - if the wind blows, wholesale prices fall. If it doesn't they go up. Extended PV build out will be able to meet most of mid-summers day demand - but that means you need low load factor flexible (ier thermally inefficient) plant to cover the 14 hours a day when the solar power output is low or non existent.
The whole of UK energy policy is a complete fucking mess, dreamt up by tree hugging cretins. The real answer to security of supply, emissions, and cost was always a national build out of nuclear, using thermal technology to bridge the fifteen year gap until you've developed the ability to build at a low enough cost. Hinkley Point is not part of this solution as it is a one off using the unproven and vastly expensive Areva EPR. And during the timescale of the current policy, the incompetent and traitorous duo of Brown and Blair sold Westinghouse to Toshiba, eliminating any possibility that we could deliver a new UK nuclear fleet through technology we had some control over, and since then we've thrown around £40bn at a rag-bag collection of low output, subsidy dependent "renewables".
Even now, a screeching U-turn could somewhat expensively expensively seize victory from the jaws of defeat (at the expense of tearing up some of the stupid treaties and EU agreements). But that's just not going to happen. The shallow, stupid timidity of politicians cannot be over-stated, so we will press on with this collection of vastly expensive policies that are doomed to fail.
It's enough to make you weep. Unless you're either a Graun-reading believer in all the cant about renewable energy, or somebody making millions selling "renewable" technologies to the feckless twerps of DECC.