Smart metering – using energy intelligently

By : |March 2, 2009 0

BANGALORE: Logica’s award-winning smart metering projects aim to help organisationsrealise the full value from smart metering with real-time data and smart grids. Rich Hampshire, Principal Consultant, Energy & Utilities, Logica, details the funda behind smart metering solutions in an interview with CIOL. 

CIOL: What is the concept behind smart metering?

Rich Hampshire: There is no doubt currently that the energy sector is entering a period of dramatic change with significant implications for the way consumers and businesses meet their energy needs. Experts agree that the world will face an “energy crunch” within a few years as our ability to meet demand for traditional primary energy sources outstrips their supply. This will be further fuelled by increasing energy prices, uncertain funding and the high priority of climate change on the political agenda. Hence the immediate need is to find new ways of satisfying our energy demand; from different methods of generating power to rewarding consumers for adopting more sustainable usage behaviour, utilities need to start making the change now whilst still focussing on the immediate challenge of delivering day-to-day operational performance.
At Logica we are very sensitive to these challenges and understand that the drivers in each market are different. Smart metering has the potential to enable utilities to meet these challenges.  The deployment of smart metering creates an information and communication infrastructure that doesn’t just support improved operational effectiveness through better customer service, but provides timely feedback to consumers that allows them to use energy more intelligently, creates the opportunity for new ‘lifestyle’ tariffs and other energy service provision for utilities as well as enabling the local distribution grids to be controlled intelligently. Smart metering is based on two-way real-time communications between the utilities’ back office systems and the meters, which enables them to do just that. Logica’s award-winning smart metering projects have demonstrated the expertise to help realise the full value from smart metering with real-time data and smart grids.  

CIOL: What is ‘smart’ about smart metering?

RH: Smart metering is built on 20 years experience from grid metering to smart meters which helps save energy and increase energy efficiency. The technology is truly a ground breaking way to solve the current energy crises.

Energy efficiency – The smart metering solutions provides real time information to customers through the web or in-home displays which encourages more intelligent consumption. This way consumers see the cost and level of their energy consumption, at any given time, which encourages them to reduce or change the timing of energy use.
Smart Grids – Smart meters run autonomously at local levels for managing personal power generation like energy from roof top solar panels. Then the Smart grids derive local information from the smart meters located in the vicinity and inform the control centre which takes strategic actions like adjusting the network elsewhere, or sending out a repair crew to mend faults.

New features – Smart meters help better understanding of customers’ lifestyle by showcasing the variation in the energy consumption pattern throughout the day.  This allows utilities to offer flexible services and enables more accurate billing.

Meeting regulatory demands – Regulatory demands to install smart meters has led to a need for large scale, integrated, smart metering solutions. Logica has the unique blend of metering expertise, experience in delivery of solutions that enable deregulated markets to operate, partners and broad utility knowledge to meet the requirement.    

CIOL: Is it meant for the utilities sector alone?

RH: One of the key challenges for regulators is to decide whether the information and communication infrastructure created by the implementation of smart metering is a dedicated solution for the acquisition of meter reads and operation of a locally balanced smart grid, or whether it creates the opportunity to support the delivery of other services by new businesses – from new entrant, independent energy services providers to social services, such as remote monitoring of, and control for, vulnerable consumers in their own homes.

CIOL: How can organisations propose to save power costs with smart metering?

RH: At Logica our award-winning smart metering projects have the expertise to help realise the full value from smart metering with real-time data and smart grids. The technology enables:   

Manage business processes – from end-to-end management of the utility – unlike traditional meter manufacturers. So, for example, a complete meter communications solution for E.ON in the Nordics, from meter installation, through IT integration to an ongoing meter data BPO service was delivered recently.
Deliver big, complex projects handling large amounts of real-time data. For example, a central electricity or gas markets in several countries including the UK, Czech Republic and Australia have been installed.
Develop valuable applications – from wind farms to energy efficiency, balancing and settlement to asset management – to help you maximise the value of the real-time data from smart meters.
Lead the way with innovative, award-winning solutions. These include the BCS award for social responsibility for a prepayment metering service for Centrica, in the UK.

CIOL: Are the products functional yet?

RH: Automated Meter Reading (an earlier version of smart metering supporting only one way communication with the meter) and Smart Metering programmes are being widely implemented around the world.  Many states in North America have implemented smart metering solutions, as have ENEL in Italy and all the utilities in Sweden.  Most of the rest of Europe is actively deploying or making plans to implement smart metering.

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