Customer focused energy efficiency – Starting but not ending with a Smart Meter

Siemens bringt Smart-Grid-Lösung auf den Markt mit Funktionen f

Smart Metering or Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) is becoming more and more relevant to utilities and retailers as well as consumers. Power grids are evolving from centralized, unidirectional networks towards complex, bidirectional grids that integrate renewable energy, other distributed generation sources and flexible storage solutions. Governments and policy makers are accelerating demands for energy efficient green solutions, and customers are getting more engaged with questions about their own demand, consumption, and carbon footprint.

In this overall context, utilities’ traditional business models are under attack, or at least challenged by new offerings and market models like enhanced contestability, products and services around a smart home and an overall demand for transparency and choice in the energy distribution and generation framework.

An AMI is an integral part of overall Smart Grid approaches to resolve these challenges. An AMI usually consists of Smart Meters at the customer site, a Meter Data Management (MDM) software platform in the back office of utilities or Retailers and a communication network linking smart meter and MDM to ensure a near-real time data flow between both points. Until today, the public’s perception of “smart metering” often matches purely with smart meters only or at maximum to related automation processes such as meter-to-cash and remote connect/disconnect. Aligned with that understanding, many market players are focusing their business cases and related benefit discussion on these two processes without looking beyond and capturing the full potential of AMI.

Powering up with AMI

From information generation and data flow perspective AMI can be seen as a Customer Centric solution providing near real time transparency on customer end-point consumption data, events and overall grid stability and performance. By combining those meter data with complementing operations-, asset-, workforce- or planning information utilities or retailers will be able to considerably expand the potential benefits of an AMI. Such an integrated data pool – managed in a robust MDM data and integration platform – combines near real time meter and grid performance data with information managed in normally isolated backend systems. This combination of both marks the real value of an integrated and strategically managed AMI.

In its discussions, engagements, pilots and rollout projects, Siemens has assessed a variety of benefits AMI brings to the areas of grid operations, outage management, asset and workforce management, demand-response, customer engagement and both technical and non-technical losses.

Each of the following examples shows levers beyond simple meter to cash operations and is able to substantially improve any smart meter business case.

1. Improved Asset Management

By having near real time, integrated field data about asset utilization, overload history and end of life predictions, utilities are able to improve asset management, reduce outage probabilities and assign field crews more efficiently. Asset replacement and enhancement decisions can be made based on real needs instead of predicted requirements.

2. Price Based Demand Response

Price-based demand response programs can help utilities balance energy demand and supply and reduce the need for additional investments in generation. Because the prices trigger the customer response, no additional investment in equipment or software is required. Price increases or rebates during critical peak periods can cut grid demand during peak events up to 50%, assuming a good selection and professional engagement of respective target groups.

3. Customer Engagement

Closer customer engagement, through the use of available consumption data for information and education purposes can help utilities achieve energy efficiency and customer satisfaction targets. Assessments in several countries have shown that the sharing of consumption data with customers on a daily basis, in a structured, educational and appealing way can reduce individual consumption by up to eight percent. Beyond the benefits of meeting energy efficiency targets, related energy bill reductions also improve a utility’s attractiveness – an important consideration in a contestable market.

4. Technical and non-technical losses

AMI provides details about time, location and scale of technical as well as non-technical losses in a given network. As an example, comparing the aggregated sum of measured meter end-points, with any feeder or sensor between end-points and substation or transformer, gives a clear indication where energy is lost and helps to define steps and measures for further investigation. Conservation voltage reduction, another lever for energy efficiency, can enhance overall grid efficiency through the integration of real end-to-end meter data into grid planning, dynamic simulations or load flow optimization runs.

5. Grid Performance and Grid Planning

While current grid planning and grid analysis assessments are mostly based on simulations and extrapolation, integrated AMI is able to provide near real time data about each metered end point of a complete grid. Not only consumption, but different energy quality and performance data and events are measured, captured and stored every 15 minutes. The resulting visibility and transparency help to significantly improve planning quality and performance sustainability.

These examples demonstrate that the benefits of AMI can go far beyond meter read automation and billing processes. The collected grid and metering data and its integration with grid operations and backend systems for asset-, customer- or workforce management enable the generation of insights in a new dimension. But simply having the data is only another step on the journey towards adding tangible business value.

In order to finally gain business insights and improved decision making, data in the back office needs to be transferred and managed at the highest possible speed, using most secure procedures and best available workflow automation. At the same time and along with changing policy and business frameworks, such a data engine needs to be flexible and easy to maintain to ensure a sustainable solution. Siemens’ software platform developed and maintained by eMeter, a Siemens Business, provides such a powerful and scalable engine. EnergyIP is not only able to grow with a utilities needs from a scale perspective but also integrated with numerous business applications out of the box to help a utility to gain insights from its data in all of the above listed examples and many more.

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This is an Exclusive Article Contribution provided by Siemens, written by Merten Foerster. Visit www.siemens.com/emeter for details or approach Siemens’ regional expert Merten Foerster, based in Singapore.

For more details to get better exposure for your brand through Exclusive Article Contributions, send your inquiries to sales@asiagreenbuildings.com.

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