A RETIRED Scottish engineer has claimed that Scotland is missing out on becoming the market leader in the $500 billion (£407bn) for smart grid technology.

Hugh Smeaton, who worked with Hewlett Packard before establishing engineering firm Fortronics in Fife in 1969, developed a smart grid system that detects network losses, which he said could have been marketed worldwide and been a lasting legacy for Scotland and the UK.

He said the system, known as a power line carrier (PLC), could dramatically reduce the percentage of network losses in the developing world’s low voltage networks, and reduce global carbon omissions to comply with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Smeaton said the system also had the potential to create employment for Scots at home and abroad.

“The crisis in climate change is in the developing world, not here. We went to Ghana and came back with a £1.4 million order for PLC-based smart meters,” he said.

“In Ghana their network losses were 30% – ours were 7% – so you have 20% of avoidable network losses and most of that is from electricity theft. When I developed the smart grid system I based it on tackling theft and now the UN have created a £500bn project voted through at the Climate Change Conference to tackle avoidable network losses.

“In the UK, I developed the technology to trace and tackle theft but a smart meter can’t provide the information to let me do it.”

Smeaton said the Department for Energy and Climate Change, which became part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in 2016, specified smart meters which cannot compete in this market because they do not produce the required information, whereas his system does.

He said UK authorities had embargoed the use of a PLC system in any smart grid system here, leaving it unable to comply with the Paris Agreement.

“The failure to adopt a PLC system goes against David Cameron’s coalition Government’s pledge in 2010 to establish a smart grid,” said Smeaton.

“The continuing use of the current ‘rogue’ smart meters is contaminating the networks, as well as costing Scotland prestige, investment, and jobs ... Why are they doing this other than to protect the big suppliers, many of whose board members, directors and associates have, in the past, sat on Government and industry-funded committees to consider implementing a smart grid system for the UK?

“Consumers are the losers, still with the same high charges for their energy, whilst opportunities for UK engineers to work aboard bringing this system to the developing world are lost.

“Meanwhile, as we have seen this summer, climate change tightens its grip.”

Smeaton last year appealed to the Scottish Government to fund a smart grid demonstration at the Power Networks Demonstration Centre in Cumbernauld, which he said would have shown his PLC system in action and created a debate about smart meters.

“The Power Networks Demonstration Centre agreed to do it, when funding was established for its validation,” he added. “I even funded the patent myself, but it has all been in vain. The public need to become aware that they have been dramatically undersold when it comes to smart meters.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The smart meter programme itself is owned and led by the UK Government who have responsibility for the policy, regulatory and commercial framework that underpins the roll out of smart metering.”

A spokesperson for BEIS added: “Smart meters play an important role in Britain’s national energy infrastructure upgrade. They are designed to be used for various applications that help to support the transition to a cheaper, more efficient energy system.”