LSE: Smarter grids could provide 700,000 UK job boost

LSE claims £15bn in broadband, smart grids and transport management systems would provide greater economic stimulus than spending on roads and bridges

The roll out of digital networks capable of cutting energy use, limiting congestion, and boosting home working could help the UK create and retain 700,000 jobs while delivering deep cuts in carbon emissions, according to a new study from the London School of Economics (LSE).

Produced in partnership with the Information Technology and Innovation Fund and funded by IT giant IBM, The UK's Digital Road to Recovery report models the likely economic impact of an additional £15bn investment in broadband networks, smart grid technologies, and intelligent transport systems, such as congestion management infrastructure.

It concludes that the productivity boost digital networks can deliver for other businesses means that increased investment in ICT technology would prove more effective at creating jobs and boosting the economy than spending on physical infrastructure such as roads and bridges.

The report calculated that an additional £5bn in broadband investment would help to create or retain 280,000 jobs, while £5bn for smart grid systems would create or retain 235,000 jobs, and investing the same sum in intelligent transport systems would result in 188,000 jobs.

The report comes just a week after chancellor Alistair Darling pledged to invest £10bn in improving the UK's broadband networks, but the report's authors said that while the new spending was welcome similar levels of funding were required for smart grid and intelligent transport technologies.

Speaking to, report co-author Patrik Karrberg, said that as well as providing a short term economic stimulus funding for digital networks, such as smart grids and transport technologies, would result in deep long term cuts in carbon emissions.

"We know that smart grids capable of better managing peaks and troughs in energy demand are essential if we are to connect variable renewable energy to the grid," he explained. "While new intelligent transport networks, such as systems being trialled in Sweden that change traffic lights as buses approach to give them priority, are one of the best ways of getting more people on to public transport."

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