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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Smart meter communication standards NEEDED!


With the expression "Smart Grid" one usually wants to describe the integration of information technologies (communication, computing, automation) into the world of power transmission and distribution networks.

This scenario includes a huge number of different aspects. Among them, one of the most important (and one of the first that is being developed) is the idea of smart metering.

With smart meter we mean metering devices for electrical energy consumption with some additional features that allow them to increase efficiency, reduce costs, increase safety.

Why are regular meters not ok for a smart grid?
Because:
  • a technician in person has to come to your place to read them, instead of collecting the data via some communication channel
  • they do not distinguish between night and day consumption, nor they can implement real time pricing
  • they don't send any alert to the central operators when something fails.
For these reason, new meters are being developed and installed. In Italy, for example, almost every house in the whole country has an electronic meter like the one you see in this picture.


What has not been developed yet is a standard protocol for meter-to-meter and meter-to-infrastructure communications. 

Three smart meter makers, Elster, Landis+Gyr and Secure, aim to create interchangeable and interoperable command sets to support smart home area networks.
 
The intention is that any smart meter and display products from any of the three will be able to be installed as part of any smart system.
 
While the group includes only three companies, it is not an exclusive group. On the contrary, other makers will join soon and are invited to do so, together with some communication suppliers that provide the media for data exchange.
 
The available communication media are:
but, more likely, we will have a mesh of these technologies in a multi-media network.