Is Asia Leaning Towards Smart Metering System?

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The ability to control energy consumption plays an important role in improving green building performance. Recent technological advancements allow people to manage energy consumption through smart metering system.

Larry Colton, the Director of Business Development at Echelon, states that smart metering can promote energy efficiency as it supports the use of flexible rates including time-of-use energy rates. The firm also added that this technology can support load control and demand response, meaning devices inside the customer’s home can be controlled to limit energy usage during certain critical times. This includes the ability to use the smart meter’s integrated disconnect switch to limit the amount of power available to occupants depending on specific situations within the distribution grid.

Responding to this technological growth, Asia shows progress in smart metering utilization, specifically to anticipate its high energy demand.

Market’s Response to Smart Metering System

Jeff Lee, the Energy and Utilities, Growth Markets Leader of IBM, stated, “The governments in Asia are increasingly focused on generating the power needed to fuel their economic expansion while balancing the environmental impact of their growth. Smart metering is one element of a smarter energy world.”

“In Asia, the conversation around smart meters mainly revolves around Advanced AMR (Automated Meter Readings) in comparison with AMIs (Advanced Metering Infrastructure). AMI differs from the traditional AMR, in that it enables remote two-way communication and control of the meter and key components of smart grids,” explained Snehil Taparia, Product Manager for Smart Energy Solutions, Centre of Excellence in Engineering, Johnson Controls Building Efficiency Asia.

The ability to provide two-way communication brings through detailed usage information to power companies, as well as to customers. This function creates occupants’ awareness to use energy intelligently.

Challenges in Deployment

As smart metering utilization starts to grow, obstacles follow. Larry Colton, Director of Business Development for Echelon found several factors that influence the deployment of smart metering such as housing type, topology, and customer density that might impact the use of certain technologies like RF (Radio Frequency) based solution. “The conditions and challenges in Asia have similarities to those associated with other locations around the world. In general, we have found that solutions based on power line communication (PLC) are the best solutions to tackle these types of problems,” said Colton. In fact, the solution based on BPSK (Binary Phase Shift Keying) PLC has been proven to provide the most reliable and consistent solution in the industry.

Furthermore, Taparia has classified 3 different challenges in smart metering deployment. Firstly, high capital expense. The cost of setting up a smart metering ecosystem is one of the top barriers to deployment. Smart meters are much more expensive than conventional meters and involve huge capital investment. Secondly, standardized technology. Smart metering standards are still being developed in Asia; hence, the low level of customer confidence in the technology sector. Notably, within the region, Singapore and China have taken the lead in this area by putting in place state mandated smart metering programs that have paved the way forward for future standards in the sector. The last challenge is consumer participation. The lack of confidence in the technology and the absence of a strong business case have affected consumer participation and adoption of smart metering initiatives.

Smart Metering Outlook in Asia

Echelon and Johnson Controls agree that smart meter market in Asia will grow in years ahead. “In general, the smart market in Asia is expected to grow by at least 15% if not more in 2014,” Colton stated. Many utilities in Asia are interested in smart metering, but they are still developing the business model to justify mass deployment. At present, Singapore is leading the utilization of smart meter.

“According to various market intelligence reports, the smart meter installed base (as a percentage of all meters) in Singapore is expected to reach 75% by 2020,” Taparia added. Other markets, such as China, India, Malaysia and Indonesia are also starting to develop this area with a range of government-led initiatives targeting greater adoption of smart meters, even more, having advanced smart grid systems.

On the other hand, Lee thinks that Asia is still in its early days of smart metering. IBM predicts that the pervasiveness of digital in energy and utilities sector will finally lead to a consumers’ demand of more intelligent and inclusive energy infrastructure that supports efficiency, renewable and energy mobility while preserving reliability, security of supply and cost competitiveness. “Consumers can and will play an important role in shaping the energy future,” Lee emphasized. (AGB.com – YTA)

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