A four-year government-funded technology development programme to help meet the needs of the UK’s future power systems is to receive an initial investment of £2.4 million.

The funding will go towards identifying feasibility of automated power distribution and demand management.

A funding competition will assist an exploratory phase of the programme, which will be financed and managed by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB).

Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the TSB, said: “By 2050, there will be a complex mix of energy generating assets including everything from nuclear power stations to offshore wind turbines and solar cells on people’s houses.

“At the same time, demand for power will go up, and the power sector will need to manage new requirements, such as the electrification of heating systems and the incorporation of electric vehicles into the electricity system.

“In this complex future grid, the challenge will be to match demand and supply. The scope of this initial funding competition will, therefore, focus on real-time monitoring, control, analysis and the balancing of supply with demand.”

The global market for goods in the field of energy networks could be worth an estimated £110 billion by 2014. It is estimated that reinforcements to the power network through increased automation of distribution and demand side participation – will save the UK £8bn by 2020.

These areas require advanced and comprehensive infrastructure network integration.