The IT sector will contribute to a smart grid for the UK after the launch of cross-industry organisation SmartGrid GB.
IT industry body Intellect is behind the project, which will bring together IT companies, environmental organisations, government, regulators and consumer groups. SmartGrid GB will coordinate the multiple stakeholders and advise the government.
Robert McNamara, energy and environment programme manager at Intellect, is SmartGrid's manager. He says the government's SmartGrid plans, which include putting 50 million smart meters in domestic and non-domestic premises by 2019, are ambitious.
But he said it is only part of a bigger project to establish a smart grid in the UK. "Smart metering is seen as a stepping stone to a smart grid," he said. "Developing a smart grid is vital if the UK is to fully exploit the exciting developments in electric cars, micro generation, smart metering and meet our carbon reduction targets. Success in smart grid will create new jobs and drive innovation."
McNamara said a smart grid will require involvement from suppliers across the IT sector including communications, software and security companies.
"The opportunity for suppliers in the IT sector to get involved is vast. A year ago the companies interested in the smart grid were the IT companies with a background in utilities but over the course of the last year we have been with many more," he added.
"We have engaged with the likes of McAfee about security, O2 about the telecommunications, as well as online service providers such as AlertMe, which helps consumers manage energy bills," McNamara added.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), which is behind the project, has already put a notice out to IT suppliers informing them to be ready to bid for work.
A new company will be set up to manage the data that smart meters send and receive. The central data and communications company (DCC), as it is known, will require services from IT and communication service providers.