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The Big Energy Challenge for the New Conservative Government

11/05/2015 09:38 BST | Updated 09/05/2016 10:59 BST

The dust is settling on an extraordinary night of election drama, and Conservative ministers will soon be assuming full control of all government departments.

A majority Conservative administration will now be able to implement clear plans for the next five years, unimpeded by what they've seen as the compromises of coalition.

The duration of this parliament exactly covers the timescale for one of the biggest national projects Great Britain has ever embarked upon.

Between now and 2020, gas and electricity smart meters will be offered to every home, at no additional cost, throughout England, Scotland and Wales. Nearly 1.5 million have already been installed - but there's a way to go.

The meters themselves may be small and unobtrusive, but the transformation they bring is profound.

The last analogue customer experience will finally enter the digital age. The nonsense of mechanical meter reading and estimated bills will come to an end.

Customers will only pay for the energy they actually use, and will be able to compare prices accurately and shop around. The information available to them will always be accurate and bang up-to-date.

The energy industry will join the 21st century and become more competitive. We will be better able to manage our national demand for energy and keep the lights on into the future.

The smart meter programme was championed by the coalition government, with support from the Labour shadow energy frontbench - and the Conservatives renewed this commitment in their manifesto.

But as is the case with any major infrastructure project, challenges have been laid down.

A report for the Institute of Directors recently questioned the rationale and delivery behind the whole programme. The Energy Select Committee questioned whether universal roll-out would be achieved by 2020. And this Huffington post article by Martin McNulty of the digital agency Forward3D says smart metering is an expensive "deceit".

McNulty's central argument seems to be that homes should concentrate on efficient devices rather than the total energy the household consumes.

He believes the real savings come through the "internet of things" - new clever ways for devices to communicate with each other and link to mobile apps.

At Smart Energy GB, we totally agree that the "internet of things" unleashes huge potential for smarter energy management in the future.

But moving to smarter platforms is only possible if we can capture and use the data needed for smarter energy management. And you can only access this data with a smart meter. Mobile apps, web-based portals, smart appliances - they need accurate data if they're to be anything other than a bolt-on to an analogue system.

Smart meters are the missing link that will give customers the control they take for granted in every other aspect of their lives.

That's why it's so important that the new government renews its commitment to this vital national project - and that the new Secretary of State focuses immediately on how to deliver smart meters to every home as quickly as consumers want to see.