‘Limited evidence’ smart meters would save consumers money

Today’s revelation that there is ‘no realistic prospect’ of the UK Government meeting its smart energy meter installation target has led to it being labelled a ‘fiasco’ by critics. Jacopo Torriti, Professor of Energy Economics and Policy at the University of Reading and Co-Director of the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions, spells out why a complete rethink could be in order if we really want to save consumers money.

There is ‘limited evidence’ smart meters would lower energy bills as intended

The National Audit Office (NAO) report is telling us that the Government underestimated how long it would take to implement the infrastructure and technical standards for the second generation of Smart Meters (SMETS2). Significant technical delays resulted in the first SMETS2 meters only being installed in July 2017, over three years later than first planned.

We now need to learn from these mistakes. The decision on whether and how to spend several millions of Pounds on such a radical change for electricity systems cannot be rushed, but will need careful analysis. The next steps on decision on smart metering implementation in the UK will have to be based on the economic rationale of Cost-Benefit Analysis.

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‘Imprints’ egalitarian theory journal now available to all

The entire back catalogue of the journal Imprints: Egalitarian Theory and Practice has been made freely available by Professor Catriona McKinnon, of the Department of Politics and International Relations, who was the journal’s editor for several years.

Imprints editors Steve Smith, Chris Bertram, Saladin Meckled-Garcia, Catriona McKinnon and Alan Carlin

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Is the Trump administration getting East Asia right, or just confusing it?

Trump began his presidency with a fairly traditional American approach to relations with East Asia – but then came his erratic decision in March to meet with Kim Jong-un. US Modern History specialist Mara Oliva explores the US-East Asian geopolitical situation over the past few months in a recent post for The Conversation.

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Sleepwalking towards the next financial crisis? Here are the five biggest risks

Ten years on from the demise of Lehman Brothers, former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown believes we are drifting towards another crash – but is he right? Nafis Alam examines the factors that will be critical in any future crisis in a recent post for The Conversation.

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Microplastics are getting into mosquitoes and contaminating new food chains

Tiny fragments of plastic are being eaten by water-dwelling mosquito larvae and retained in their bodies as they develop to the flying stage, contaminating new food chains as the insects are eaten by bats and birds. Reading’s Dr Amanda Callaghan, who made the finding, tells us more in a new post for The Conversation.

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Boosting word skills in children with Down Syndrome

Children with Down Syndrome often don’t speak or develop vocabulary at the same rate as other children. But new research shows that helping parents to interact with their child in particular ways can boost their language development. Professor Vesna Stojanovik, who is currently hosting the 2018 Down Syndrome Forum at Reading, explains more.

Boy with Down Syndrome sitting on a bench.

Children with Down Syndrome often have a developmental delay in acquiring language skills.

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Present your research in Parliament: apply for STEM for Britain 2019

Samantha Mudie presents her poster in Parliament

Early-career and student research scientists, engineers, technologists and mathematicians have until 3 December to apply for STEM for Britain 2019.

Shortlisted entries will be asked to present their posters at an event in the Houses of Parliament on Monday 11 March, as part of British Science Week. Prizes are awarded for the posters in each discipline which best communicate their science to a lay audience, with the best overall poster winning the Westminster Medal.

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Fixing a hole

31 years on from the international treaty which banned CFCs, Reading atmospheric scientist Michaela Hegglin reflects on what’s been achieved and whether we’ve really solved the problem of ozone layer depletion.

False-colour view of the total ozone over the Antarctic pole.

False-colour view of total ozone over the Antarctic pole. The purple and blue indicates where there is the least ozone, and the yellows and reds are where there is more ozone. Image credit: NASA Ozone Watch

Today is International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer. Ever heard of it? Some of you may know that a crucial treaty got signed on that very day in 1987, but not that the United Nations would have marked this historical event by giving it the status of an International Day. There is a pretty good reason for it.

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Lehman Brothers anniversary: A philosopher’s view on avoiding another financial crash

It’s 10 years since the collapse of Lehman Brothers (15 Sept 2008) and the ensuing financial crisis still haunts us today. But how many lessons have been learned? Here, Professor Emma Borg makes the case for a social licence for banks that could make for a more financially stable future for everyone.

The Lehman Brothers collapse triggered a financial crash in 2008

George Santayana said “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” and, with the 10-year anniversary of the Lehman Brothers collapse upon us, now is the time to reflect on the global financial crash and ask just how likely those events are to repeat themselves.

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