Taking steps towards realising the vision of the smart grid

There are many factors influencing the rapid changes in the energy market. These include forces such as market liberalisation, which has given rise to the need for a variety of players to work together effectively to build an interoperable environment for their products and solutions, whilst still facing a highly competitive market.

The evolving regulatory environment including the EU’s 3rd energy package are factors that are driving market dynamics. For this reason, the future of the energy business is set to look very different from what it is today – and changes are already beginning to unfold. The European Union’s 20-20-20 goals to reduce the output of greenhouse gases by 20 percent, improve energy efficiency by 20 percent and increase the percentage of renewable energy by 20 percent, all by 2020, mark the advent of further change.

These market and energy management goals can only be achieved with the development of the smart grid, a “digital” and more efficient energy network, which cannot operate without smart meters and interoperability.

Interoperability is the enabler
To make the vision of the smart grid a reality, interoperability is being developed for various systems across the metering value chain. Interoperability between devices of different manufacturers and systems aids the growth of new markets and reduces investment risks for utilities, allowing them to keep their entrepreneurial flexibility. Leading suppliers such as Landis+Gyr are involved in numerous workgroups and projects all designed to lead the effort of broadening the use of standards and to provide interoperability in the energy industry.

The requirement for interoperability and openness is increasingly important for utilities.  In a changing environment with different and potentially emerging technologies, it is of great importance to manage single- and multi-technical approaches.  The solution is to ensure that systems interoperate, so that utilities are free to combine a solution that fits their needs – and supports their business case.

Interfaces will spur rapid development
Interoperability is one of the main points of discussion among energy regulators, policy makers and the industry. There has been a call for universal definitions and communications standards, inter alia through the DLMS-User Association. This created the opportunity for AMI/AMM providers to develop interoperability specifications in the context of a series of projects.

Based on joint experience and common targets, three companies have completed a testing phase which proves that each manufacturer's smart meters are fully interoperable with those of the other two manufacturers. This is achieved by incorporating interoperable device interface specifications (IDIS) that are based on existing open international standards as defined and maintained by the DLMS-UA. IDIS is forward-looking and open to any other supplier that wants to incorporate identical interface specifications.

The interfaces of the three companies' smart meters allow customers to mix and match products from different suppliers. This will accelerate the development of smart grid applications. The scope covers a full end-to-end solution, from the Home Area Network (HAN) to the Wide Area Network (WAN) and the interface to utilities existing IT infrastructure.

Further, the Iberdrola-led OPEN meter project is supported by the European Commission. It aims to open up the market of smart multi_metering systems thereby enabling customer participation in energy markets. The Consortium’s balanced partnership between network operators, equipment suppliers, research centres and standardization bodies’ helps to ensure that the standards developed will have wide acceptance in the industry. Interoperability will, therefore, be achieved, eliminating costly incompatibles arising from proprietary solutions.

No Smart Grid without smart meters
As the world moves toward an increasing focus on renewable energy, home automation and PHEV’s, utilities are looking at how to deploy smarter grids to interact with these new resources.  This development will not, however, simply come of its own volition. Although the construction of a smart grid is part of a wider trend toward the creation of a global, digitalized, information society, it is not pre-ordained. The creation of a smart grid will be the result of conscious energy, environmental and regulatory policy decisions. A first step in this transition of the grid must be the introduction of smart metering. It is the metering system that is the enabler of the smart grid: the smart grid combines data from and into many grids all sourced into one management platform.

But change in the energy market is not restricted to market liberalization: smart-metering technology and the huge improvement it offers utilities and consumers alike in terms of the quality and availability of energy management information, is putting a powerful tool in the hands of any utility that is able to fully unlock its potential.

The future smart grid will transform the current ‘one way’ infrastructure to a multi-directional, multi-functional, dynamic system, which balances central and decentralized generation, and creates real time transparency for all stakeholders as the basis for a stable and sustainable use of energy.

A vital link
As a leader in the industry, Landis+Gyr’s Gridstream solution offering is designed to enable the smart grid and the future of energy management. It enhances utility processes by gathering, managing and refining metering data and passing it on to the utility’s different IT systems.

To unlock the potential of smart metering, Landis+Gyr has several initiatives in place that ensure communication, as well as a wider set of functionalities result in a more economic means of managing business process flows. Landis+Gyr and SAP have recognized this opportunity and, as a result, designed the Gridstream MDUS solution which enables the seamless integration of SAP EDM with Landis+Gyr energy management systems.

Gridstream MDUS provides the vital link between the AMI/AMM solution and the SAP environment systems. By optimising energy data management, Gridstreams MDUS allows utilities to build a direct and long-lasting relationship with their customers. It covers all functions and interfaces required for meter validation, network management, billing, and customer relationship management. The advanced software is interoperable with third-party systems using an IEC standard-based interface.

The solution has two key elements: the first provides the system level interfaces to SAP and to the AMM system, while the second performs processing and aggregation of the basic meter reading data. The software acts as an interoperable messaging interface and MDM system that enables bi-directional communication between SAP IS-U and AMM systems. It provides all functions and interfaces required for meter data collection, synchronization of the “master data”, such as serial number, location, and status, associated with new device installation or device replacement, multiple-tariff or time-of-use billing parameters, and for remote device connection and disconnection. The SAP IS-U user interface initiates these operations, while MDUS performs data collection and processing required to collect and send the necessary information from the AMM system to SAP.

“Electricity speedometer”

Liberalisation and deregulation of energy markets has led to new challenges being placed on utilities, in the areas of meter data processing, billing and customer services. In today’s competitive market both regulators and customers alike are expecting the highest of service delivery from their utilities. This includes clear and accurate bills based on actual energy consumption, competitive tariff offers, and the ability to communicate more directly with customers using either in-home display devices or the Internet. All of these services require accurate and timely energy consumption information and a highly available communications channel, as well as a customer base that is well-informed of the improved options and choices that the smart grid can deliver. 

One of the largest, fastest and most advanced smart meter deployments in the US is taking place in the Dallas metropolitan area.  Oncor, a regulated electricity distribution and transmission utility, owns 3.1 million meters and delivers energy to over 7 million electricity consumers. Landis+Gyr was selected by Oncor to replace over 3 million meters with smart meters by 2012, in a project that includes a two-way communication network and electronic meters fitted with remote service switches. The system also enables consumer involvement via in-home displays, and can be expanded to include distribution automation.

Oncor’s strategic aim is to increase energy efficiency for their consumers, and to improve their own efficiency, heralding in the Smart Grid. “With AMS technology and monitoring equipment, consumers will have the ability to get real-time information about how they use electricity. It’s essentially an electricity speedometer that puts control in the hands of consumers,” says Bob Shapard, Oncor CEO.

Achieving a sustainable impact
Landis+Gyr is pioneering smart grid developments on a global level. It has a leading position in IDIS and other standards development projects, and it is promoting smart metering industry interoperability at all levels, from the meter through to system software such as Gridstream AIM and Gridstream MDUS, providing the link to SAP, and beyond to distribution management.

As part of its work to provide utilities with the right products and insight to act competitively in a smart grid environment, Landis+Gyr has partnered with other industry leaders to deliver tools that contribute to the development of a smart grid environment. Its objective is to help its customers to manage energy better.

Landis+Gyr operates in more than 30 countries across five continents and offers the broadest portfolio of products and services in the electricity metering industry. We are the worldwide leader in electricity metering with a preeminent position in advanced metering management (AMM) or ‘smart metering’.  We have a strong heritage with over 100 years of metering experience. Landis+Gyr brings thought leadership and innovative technology to the industry, executed by people who truly understand local markets.