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Managing Energy with smart metering

Just like social sharing has grown manifold after advent of internet, digitization of electrical systems is bound to bring the Smart metering wave to India. Among all other forces that will drive the advent of Smart metering, two seem to be most dominant:

The digitization of technology – introduction of smart metering seems a logical step in a world where all communication is digitalized and standardized (Internet, E-mail, SMS, chat boxes etc.) and where cost of ‘digital intelligence’ are still rapidly decreasing.
The acute need to bridge the power gap – With over 40% losses in the form of un-recovered bills and 13% peak power deficit, smart energy meters are most likely to serve as a panacea for the utility companies.

​In this edition of E-valve we walk-through some points that will help us to leverage on the benefits of smart meters as users or consumers.

The Big Picture

A recent research report published by Innovation Observatory reveals that utilities worldwide will spend US$378 billion in Smart Grid technologies by 2030. However, the lion share (almost 80%) of the total investment will be taken by only 10 countries. India, which will be third largest smart grid investment market, is set to install 130 million Smart Meters by 2021.

Understanding the power of Smart Energy Meter.

Smart Metering” in simple terms is measuring of electrical energy consumption at consumer 7premises in regular predefined interval with the help of an electronic energy meter which have two-way communication facility (called smart meter) and to send the energy consumption data to the Data Centre (Control Centre) of the utility for monitoring and billing purposes. It also helps the utility to remotely control/regulate the energy consumption of the consumer or disconnect the power supply to the consumer if required.

A “smart” meter has the following capabilities:

    • Real-time or near-time registration of electricity use and possibly electricity generated locally e.g., in case of photovoltaic cells
    • Offering the possibility to read the meter both locally and remotely (on demand)
    • Remote limitation of the throughput through the meter (in the extreme case cutting of the electricity to the customer)
    • Interconnection to premise-based networks and devices (e.g., distributed generation)
    • Ability to read other, on-premise or nearby commodity meters (e.g., gas, water)

Smart Energy and Lower Energy bills

Research shows that, in the US –on an average, introduction of smart meters have helped to reduce the consumption by 6-8% in household and about 2-3% in case of industry. Reliable data for large scale operations of smart energy meters in India is not available yet.

In spite of the above data, the debate over impact of smart energy meters on lowering energy bills for consumers has remain5ed inconclusive. Partly because the parity between benefits enumerated by utility companies while introducing smart meters are not completely realized in practice.
Therefore investments in smart metering mean taking risks. As consumers it means we need to prepare ourselves at multiple levels to make the most of this change rather than do nothing and set ourselves for a ‘shock’

You are what you consume

Often, the shift from traditional meters to smart energy meters is not as smooth as it is marketed by utility companies. It begins with some panic as power bills usually shoot up while the benefits from this new technology are not clear as yet. The entire exercise appears like a one sided deal where customers bear the cost and the benefits are en-cashed by the utility company. The first step, like all other shifts in technologies, is to shift the mindset. A mindset that explores new possibilities is the key to realize the power of smart energy meters.
Below, we discuss some of the new possibilities and opportunities that open up with introduction of Smart Energy Meters.

Load Signatures

Smart Energy 7Meters can collect a unique meter identifier, time stamp, usage data, and time synchronization every 15 to 60 minutes. With “smart meters”, outage, voltage, phase, frequency data, and detailed status and diagnostic information from networked sensors and appliances can also be collected. Put together it is easy to acquire “Load signatures” and the data patterns revealed in the process provide a lot of detail about power consumption behaviour.
As consumers we must read and leverage the load signatures to control excesses in power consumption.

Other Advantages

Smart meters also help to build a foundation for better customer service. They do so through operational improvements, including more accurate billing and fewer estimated bills. Automated outage detection is another benefit. In helping restore service faster, smart meters can lower operating costs and improve customer service.

Smart meters are here to come, sooner than later! While introducing smart meters is not going to be easy, getting one will introduce lot of new possibilities for sure.