26 January 2009

Smart Metering

This Smart Meters blog post says

In the report, information compiled by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) from 21 different studies of projects varying in size found that the median amount of energy saved would be 18 percent over 13 years. This works out to Americans saving 1.5 percent more energy each year, which has been demonstrated at utilities deploying aggressive energy conservation programs.
Reduction of peak load can range between 7 and 22 percent according to other ACEEE studies. Depending on the geographical area, savings can be significantly higher. For example, in the southern states summers are typically hotter so there is much more potential for consumers who are enrolled in demand response programs to cycle down their air conditioning on the hottest days.
So what is a "Smart Meter"?

Smart Meters
Wikipedia says
A smart meter  generally refers to a type of advanced meter (usually an electrical meter) that identifies consumption in more detail than a conventional meter; and optionally, but generally, communicates that information via some network back to the local utility for monitoring and billing purposes (telemetering).
There are a lot of smart metering projects taking place in the world. Click on the map below to navigate to your part of the world.

World Map of Smart Metering Projects

View Larger Map

Applications of Smart Meters

Smart meters and electric cars: a match made in efficiency says
Studies have found that electric vehicles could be charged with electricity produced under the current system, if done at the right time, agreed National Resources Defense Council scientist Simon Mui.
It might seem that simply plugging in your Chevy Volt or Ford Escape before bedtime would do. But increased use of electric vehicles could lead to everyone plugging in at the same time, peaking demand and complicating things, particularly if electric vehicles take hold of entire neighborhoods, as car trends often do, Kjaer explained.
So instead, Edison and auto manufacturers are turning to "smart metering" technologies. Such technologies allow consumers and, potentially appliances, to be aware of how much electricity is being consumed everywhere so that they can try to consume when other people are not.
Smart Metering Products
offers a spectrum of Demand Response, advanced metering, and grid management solutions – all designed to assist utilities and end consumers in utilizing energy "smarter" and more efficiently.
Tendril Inc's TREE platform
The TREE Platform is an open, enterprise-class demand side energy management software solution for utilities and energy retailers. Designed to support multiple energy management applications simultaneously, including Energy Efficiency , Demand Response , and Pricing . TREE provides a complete solution that is scalable, unified, and optimized for seamless integration with the utility back-office, a variety of meter networks, and ZigBee® enabled devices.
The TREE platform can be accessed by consumers in various ways including, the Vantage consumer portal, mobile devices, an energy management widget, smart thermostats , and smart in-home displays. These devices provide access and information about the other devices in the Home Area Network (HAN) as well as details on their energy consumption and billing information. The Vantage Utility Management Center provides energy retailers with the ability to monitor and manage millions of HANS simultaneously, and communicate directly with their customers regarding service and support in real-time. 
Utilities are challenged to connect a variety of disparate systems, including AMI/AMR, GIS, and supervisory measurement and control systems. Only one technology will mitigate the considerable risk posed by obsolescence or proprietary solutions: a network based on open, secure standards.
The protocols making the Internet possible have become ubiquitous–every major standards organization has embraced the suite of networking protocols, simply known as IP, in one form or another. Use of IP provides the highest ROI, the least financial risk, the greatest number of proven security options and the shortest payback cycle.
An IP-based network empowers utilities to add new products today and advanced services as they become available.
Software solutions include UtilOS®, a network operating system designed to enable maximum control, and UtilityIQ®, a network management platform for advanced meter reading, advanced network management and scalable, reliable data management. Network infrastructure is enhanced with Access Point SG, a central hub between end-point devices and the enterprise, and Relay SG, a highly reliable, open, standards-based RF repeater. Silver Spring Networks also makes endpoints more intelligent with Network Interface Cards (NICs) and the Gas Interface Management Unit™.
Trilliant was the first AMI vendor to introduce an open standards-compliant wireless mesh network solution for mass-market (residential) applications. The MeshReader™ intelligent metering communications product family has established a new open standards and cost effective approach to two-way communications for residential customer applications. ..Our products are all standards-based, state-of-the-art devices. They include different options (retrofit, external box), to cover all needs for electric, gas and water meter data collection and management. The utility will find all the appropriate solutions for its different requirements. We have developed very economical devices for the residential and small commercial customers.
Ember is the ZigBee leader, delivering a series of industry firsts:
First fully integrated System-on-Chip combining processor,memory and radio on a single chip
First ZigBee coprocessor simplifying the addition of ZigBee networking to a wide range of systems
First ZigBee PRO Feature Set stack, enabling truly scalable, robust, and reliable ZigBee networks
Ember has proven the ability to enable scalable AMI and AMR network solutions. The EmberZNet PRO stack implements important AMI-oriented enhancements, including advanced “deep sleep” modes that minimize power consumption for gas and water meter applications, where multi-year battery life is critical.
In addition to leading silicon and ZigBee stack software, Ember also provides the software and tools infrastructure to deliver complete, robust solutions quickly. This includes reliable over-the-air software updating, complete reference applications for AMI and Home Automation devices, industry leading development tools that speed system development, and manufacturing test library options that enable high-volume manufacturing.
 Smart Metering Protocols
Shipments of chips based around the 802.15.4 standard will rise to 292 million units in 2012, way up from the seven million sold in 2007. (ZigBee  is based around 802.15.4) About one-third of the chips on the 802.15.4 protocol will be based around d a ZigBee stack, but that’s still nearly 100 million chips sold.
A leading driver of demand for these chips will be smart meters and sensors for home networks. With these home networks, electric meters will be able to turn down air conditioners or turn off the heater in dryers to save power.
EETimes  interview
ZigBee has great market opportunities, but only if the promise of extreme low cost and low power can be realized. For the target devices, battery lifespans are measured in years and the market won’t bear more than $1 or $2 per unit for the ZigBee controller and radio. A company can be successful in this market only by aggressively cutting costs in every area of design, engineering, and production.
This Energy Australia's WiMAX rollout article says:
Data will be collected over the last-mile via WiMAX-enabled substations which will connect to new upstream and downstream smart metering devices installed in homes and businesses.
A new 1000km fibre backbone, built over the last three years, will carry the data from the substations to 250 sites across the two states.
The fibre backbone replaced an aging copper network with upgradeable 1Gbps Virtual PrivateLAN Service (VPLS) and Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) layer 2 and 3.
Advanced Metering Infrastructure
Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) refers to systems that measure, collect and analyse energy usage, from advanced devices such a selectricity meters, gas meters, and/or water meters, through various communication media on request or on a pre-defined schedule. This infrastructure includes hardware, software, communications, customer associated systems and meter data management (MDM) software.

The network between the measurement devices and business systems allows collection and distribution of information to customers, suppliers,utility companies and service providers. This enables these businesses to either participate in, or provide, demand response solutions, products and services. By providing information to customers, the system assists a change in energy usage from their normal consumption patterns, either in response to changes in price or as incentives designed to encourage lower energy usage use at times of peak-demand periods or higher wholesale prices or during periods of low operational systems reliability.

AMI "raises the bar" with regard to traditional Automatic meter reading (AMR) in that it enables two-way communications with the meter. Traditional systems which were only capable of meter readings don't qualify as AMI systems.
This MCE information paper lists the following Smart meter functionalities 
Communications interface – to allow a range of other devices (such as in-home displays and direct load control equipment) to access the communications network through the meter.
Remote load control – devices (such as airconditioners and pool pumps) could be turned on or off by the meter, either according to a remotely-settable time schedule or following a remote request through the communications network.
Export metering – the ability to measure electricity flowing out of customers' premises, supporting tariffs for distributed and embedded generation (such as cogeneration or solar).
Remote connect/disconnect – the ability for the electricity supply to be cut off and restored remotely. Combined with remote special reading this would allow for cases where there is a change of occupancy and there is a gap between the departure of the old occupant and the arrival of the new occupant.
Outage detection - to allow utilities to monitor the status of each meter - for example allowing utilities to test whether supply has been restored to each house before a truck leaves after a repair.
Meter tamper detection - to monitor whether the meter is accessed without authorisation, helping protect the physical meter asset and helping manage non-technical losses.
Remote time synchronisation - to keep the meter's internal clock accurate without requiring a site visit to check and adjust.
Quality of supply measurement and recording - to detect and record events such as outages, voltage spikes and voltage drops at each house or business.
The Victoria (Australia) 2009 smart meter roll-out will focus on four key services that will be of most benefit to consumers.
• Recording electricity used every half hour, so households can better monitor their energy use and cost;
• Meters read remotely, to help make bills more accurate, help retailers respond to customer enquiries better and distributors can more easily identify faults;
• Remotely connecting supply; and
• Remotely disconnecting supply, making it more convenient for people moving house.

Further Reading 

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