By Terry Macalister
Recruits will be needed to help introduce 'smart meters' to help people see exactly how much energy they are using in their homes.
British Gas today promised to create 2,600 green jobs over the next three years by rolling out "smart meters" and installing wind turbines on peoples' homes.
The move should help ministers meet targets of cutting carbon emissions through lower use of power, especially that generated by gas or other fossil fuels.
About 1,700 of the recruits will be new to the industry, while 900 are expected to be brought in from rival metering organisations in time for a government-backed roll-out programme due to start in 2012. Earlier this year the company unveiled plans to take on an additional 1,500 staff to work in the clean technology sector.
"Today's announcement of 2,600 new jobs by 2012 shows we are creating skilled green jobs in Britain and training the experts who will help customers become more energy efficient in the future," said Phil Bentley, managing director of British Gas.
The new workers, to be trained at the company's growing network of energy academies, will install smart meters and help homeowners understand how the devices could reduce energy use, save money and end the practice of estimated monthly bills. Anecdotal evidence suggests savings of up to 25% can be made.
In May energy secretary Ed Miliband launched a consultation process on smart meters that is planned to run to September. The government would like energy suppliers to be responsible for meters with a new third-party body handling the data, but the companies want to do it all themselves.
Britain plans to replace all existing electricity and gas meters – often clunky objects hidden away in cupboards – with easily viewed devices that show consumers exactly how much energy they are using, and even see the energy demands of individual appliances.
It is hoped that people will change their behaviour to save money. The meters will also help homeowners sell electricity from green technologies such as solar panels or rooftop wind turbines back to the grid, while improving energy demand forecasts and network management.
Smart meters are seen as a first step toward creating "smart grids" where consumers can adjust electricity use to benefit from cheaper energy at times of low demand, including charging electric cars, and reduce consumption at peak times.
The British government estimates that smart meters could deliver net benefits of between £2.5bn and £3.6bn over the next 20 years.
In April, the government set a 2020 target to cut Britain's greenhouse gas emissions by 34% compared with 1990 levels but the necessary renewable energy growth and efficiency improvements have so far been small.
• This article was amended on 2 July 2009. The original projected net benefits from smart meters of between £2.5m and £3.6m. This has been corrected.
This piece originally appeared in The Guardian.
Photo credit: Flickr/Dominics Pics, Creative Commons License.
We offer an open source (Free) software platform for measuring energy consumption in data centers.
We have just published an article on measuring the phantom power of a BlackBerry charger. Cost of electricity charging the BlackBerry each year: 12.5 cents. Cost of vampire effect: $1.26. The waste is 10x use, symptomatic of the whole energy issue - we waste.
I agree that measuring is needed, for without a baseline it is not possible to prioritize where and what to change. But I mention the above as we cannot get people to read our content, let alone make the effort to apply the many tools readily available.
So it seems to me that there is a bigger issue than the technology and the solutions needed to save.
It is the will and the attitude to save!
Why so much writing about smart power strips, why can we not bend down (possibly good for the health debate as well) and simply switch it off.
There was a time when it was common to litter, today that has changed. We face a sad reality, many of us are simply energy bugs. No single act appears serious, collectively we are destroying what we were given.
Saving energy takes effort, a shorter shower, remembering to switch it off, waiting for it to restart etc.
I applaud British gas, for we all need the employment, but please can we address the culture as well as the solutions.
Details of the BlackBerry study can be found at: http://open4energy.com/forum/hc/power/blackberry_charging