Fresh news on smart grid and green technologies
Industrial wireless devices and networks are used for measurement and control applications in areas of process plants where it is too difficult or too expensive to hardwire sensors, transmitters, and final control elements. They are also used for temporary applications, such as in research and development and pilot plants. Although most consumer wireless networks are used for convenience, industrial field wireless networks must be much more reliable, and cannot interfere with other wireless applications in the plant. These networks, and their accompanying wireless devices, must also be simple for existing plant personnel to support. Finally, industrial wireless networks and devices must easily integrate with existing wired devices and networks, and the entire wireless system must be flexible and scalable.
Wireless solutions for the process industry
There are three basic areas in which industrial field wireless networks can operate in the process industry: the global canopy, a site backbone, and a field mesh. The global canopy is the term used for long-range wireless communication. It can be made up of a site-to-site private network joining locations up to hundreds of miles apart, or it can use public networks, such as the Internet, a satellite, or cellular communications. This type of network is used for data transmission over very long distances.
A site backbone is a good solution in cases where data is transmitted from cell-to-cell within a transmission distance of a few miles. Although the distances covered are shorter than with a global canopy, a site backbone network can still be used to transmit data over relatively long distances.
A field mesh or wireless sensor network is used for sending and receiving a few kilobytes (kB) of data over a short range up to a few hundred feet. These field wireless networks are comprised of sensors and actuators, field mobile devices, and field end points—and these types of networks will be the focal point of this article.
ComEd announced today that work related to the Smart Grid program resulted in 2,872 full-time equivalent jobs in the third quarter of 2013. These include more than 900 direct full-time equivalent jobs at the utility and its contractors as submitted in a report to the Illinois Commerce Commission, plus more than 1,900 induced full-time equivalent positions.
The report showed that the grid modernization program supported 954 full-time equivalent positions, including 282 at the utility and 671 with its contractors. In addition, based on the proportion of direct to induced jobs created by the program in 2012, ComEd estimates that 1,908 indirect jobs were generated in the third quarter as a result of the ripple effect of capital spending.
“Strengthening and modernizing our system in northern Illinois continues to support many good paying jobs at ComEd and at our contractors, which has a positive impact throughout the region,” said Anne Pramaggiore, president and C.E.O., ComEd. “We’re confident the investment program will create more opportunities as smart meter installation begins to accelerate in the coming year.”
The grid modernization program launched in January 2012. ComEd began installing smart meters in September of this year in the near-west suburbs where the company conducted the smart meter pilot project in 2010. A smart meter uses a digital electric meter that provides customers with information that makes it possible to better manage energy consumption and costs. The company will install 60,000 smart meters this year. Current plans call for installing more than 800,000 meters through 2015. All of ComEd’s 4 million customers will receive a smart meter by 2021.
ComEd is investing $1.3 billion in Smart Grid technology, including digital meters and technology that automatically reroutes power around problem areas, reducing the frequency and duration of power outages. It’s also investing $1.3 billion in infrastructure improvements over 10 years.
At Memoori Research, we have just published our second report analyzing the fast growing market for Energy Management Software in Smart Buildings and together with its “syster” report which focused on interfacing Smart Buildings with Smart Grid they confirm beyond any shadow of doubt that together they will play the critical role in reducing CO2 emissions from buildings in the 21st century low carbon economy, whilst dramatically reducing operating cost.
Whilst presently BEMS and Enterprise Energy Management software operate as separate businesses they will only deliver against customer value propositions if they work together.
Today there are four different businesses that can and will play important roles in managing energy and the environment in Smart Buildings. Of these BEMS sits at the center and provides the control of the buildings environment and delivers most of the data and information upon which the EEM system provides an end-to-end solution for enterprise energy management in the building.
The ESCO’s and System Integrators are crucial to delivering the solution. ESCO’s because they can be both buyers and/or influence the buying decision and provide the finance and energy supply. System Integrators because they now have the skills to integrate the BEMS and other technical services in buildings such as lighting and electrical management systems and finally connect up to the EEM system.
Andrew Greenfield checks his home’s solar power output against consumption through his computer and mobile phone dozens of times each day. The International Business Machines Corp. storage engineer enjoys trying to match the power he consumes to heat his pool in Arizona with what he produces during the day from the panels on his roof.
Greenfield has paid nothing for power from his local utility since the system was installed by SolarCity a year ago. At parties and family gatherings he proudly shares his savings data with anyone who’s interested.
He’s your utility’s worst nightmare, and there are now hundreds of thousands of homeowners and small businesses like him as Silicon Valley entrepreneurs transform monthly ratepayers into smart consumers.
“I travel a lot, and don’t always remember to turn off my AC or the pool heater,” Greenfield said. “Now I can just do it on my cellphone.”
The same rooftop solar providers that are threatening utility revenues are more than just occupying customer roofs. They’re inside the home, monitoring usage trends and adapting the systems to meet both homeowners’ needs and their own bottom lines.
SolarCity, Sunrun, SunPower and Locus Energy are amassing billions of points of data in smart home systems that consumers love and that baffle utilities, many of which have no incentive to help consumers manage their power usage more efficiently.
A Nov. 21 Harris Interactive poll of 2,022 U.S. adults commissioned by Sunrun found that 74 percent have an interest in using technology in their home to track personal data and use energy more efficiently.
Huawei – a leading global information and communications technology (ICT) solutions provider –has seen an increased interest in smart grid technologies among power companies looking to transform their businesses to generate less energy waste by providing electricity across the country with integrated network solutions that are more reliable, flexible and convenient.
Market intelligence firm IDC has predicted that smart grid spending will increase by a compound annual growth rate of over 17 percent globally from 2010 to 2015, while overall spending will reach nearly $46.4 billion worldwide in 2015.
Linking up with technology experts at the 4-day Saudi Arabia Smart Grid Conference 2013 that opened on Sunday in Jeddah, Huawei said utility companies in the region today are faced with the challenge of providing stable and cost effective energy while being able to respond to increasing environmental concerns. Growth in the alternative energy market is also raising new opportunities to be addressed, with companies looking for ways to integrate new energy sources with smarter upgrade projects. Smart Grid solutions are playing a central role in transforming the modern power industry to not only protect energy sources from blackouts or attacks, but are also giving customers greater control of their own power consumption.
“By letting people and businesses know how much power they are using, with which machines and at what cost during every minute of the day, you provide them with tools to measure and ultimately cut energy consumption,” said Shi Xiaohua, Director of Huawei Enterprise Business, KSA. “Smart Grid solutions ease the lives of utility companies thanks to automated processes and meter reading. This will inevitably cut down the level of administrative work and allow them to focus more on their core business of developing more competitive delivery models.”
As part of its involvement at the conference, experts from Huawei’s enterprise business will be previewing how local utility companies can provide a more seamless flow of power to businesses and individuals through an intelligent network infrastructure that is able to detect faults in the process of rerouting power supplies, for instance. From power transmission & transformation communication services to power distribution automation and advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), Huawei has successfully deployed a host of effective smart grid solutions worldwide helping customers realize significant results. Utility companies that have deployed Huawei’s smart grid solutions now enjoy better management-automation levels and reductions in operational expenditure (OPEX) by as much as 10 percent.
Holly Springs, Mississippi, has contracted GE to provide its software as a service (SaaS) to modernize its utility grid. GE’s SaaS will provide Holly Springs with advanced outage detection capabilities on its monitored meters, immediately notifying utility managers when an outage or power loss has been detected. In addition, its asset monitoring capabilities enable the city to register and monitor all meters connected to its utility network, logging and classifying any issues that may occur. This information is then analyzed and reported, providing insight into the operational state of the city’s utility assets and an in-depth view of the city’s energy usage.
As per the agreement, GE reports it will provide Holly Springs with “a pre-integrated package of services ranging from electric, water and gas meter services for the city’s advanced metering infrastructure to prepaid electric billing on a consumer web portal. The package also includes services such as outage detection, asset monitoring, and support for the city’s grid—to the city of Holly Springs for 10 years.”
Todd Jackson, GE’s Digital Energy business product line leader of software solutions notes, “The improved reliability and efficiency that come along with a modernized grid are prime reasons why cities look to upgrade their utility infrastructure. By equipping Holly Springs with our SaaS grid modernization technology, we have helped the city to establish an advanced utility network capable of meeting twenty-first century energy challenges.”
Jon Stretch is the Executive Vice President for Landis+Gyr, based in Zug, Switzerland, and responsible for the group’s operations across Europe, Middle East and Africa.
1. Landis+Gyr is offering with Gridstream® an end-to-end future-ready smart grid solution. What group of customers is Landis+Gyr targeting with Gridstream?
Jon Stretch: With Gridstream, Landis+Gyr is really targeting utility customers all across EMEA. Especially customers who do not want to depend on proprietary solutions and instead require a solution that is market-proven, interoperable and flexible enough to be used for different projects.
Therefore, Landis+Gyr has designed its Gridstream solution for a variety of needs and deployment strategies.
Many utilities are looking to purchase an end-to-end solution in order to have one strategic partner, who has clear ownership and responsibility for the performance of the system. In this case, the Gridstream end-to-end solution would be deployed including Meter Data Management functionality (MDM). The benefit here is that the solution is already pre-integrated, market-proven and flexible enough to be seamlessly integrated into an existing system environment.
Alternatively, those utilities looking for proven core functions that are needed to deploy, run and manage smart metering installations and a smart metering infrastructure would choose Gridstream with its IEC based standard interfaces; it would be their choice as it can integrate with MDM or other systems that are already in place, and still deliver a market proven and flexible core solution to handle the complexity of a smart metering infrastructure.
There are also customers willing to handle integration and communication management – and the associated risks – on their own. Those that want to do that are able to deploy Landis+Gyr smart meters and integrate them with their standard interfaces according to IEC/IDIS.
Obviously we also keep a close eye on emerging regulation and market requirements. Thusly, we are continually enhancing Gridstream with regular new releases and product launches. Our customers not only benefit from the broad usage of the Gridstream solution across EMEA but also have a future proof investment.
2. Is Landis+Gyr currently allowing 3rd party companies to tie in their solutions to the Gridstream platform?
Jon Stretch: Yes, Landis+Gyr fully supports interoperability and therefore allows third parties to tie their solutions to the Gridstream platform; our solution architecture has an IEC 61968 based standard integration framework, as well as Meter Data Unification and Synchronisation (MDUS) and Interoperable Device Interface Specifications (IDIS).
Ensuring interoperability is a priority for Landis+Gyr and for this reason, in 2009, we joined two other meter manufacturers to establish the IDIS association. The IDIS specifications are based on the well-established, international standards series EN/IEC 62056, and the association has also developed a corresponding testing environment. In order to ensure neutrality, the tests are conducted by DNV Kema, an internationally recognised testing institution for the electronics industry based in the Netherlands. The IDIS specifications and the IDIS testing environment are made available to all manufacturers and utilities, irrespective of whether they are members of the IDIS association or not.
IDIS has been key in enabling Landis+Gyr to contribute to the development of interoperability, and therefore enable access by third parties to our platforms, as you say. The IDIS association is the only way to ensure that interoperability based on open standards is not just talk – but rather that it becomes a fact.
3. Toshiba acquired Landis+Gyr AG in 2011 with a wish to position the Smart Community business as a new focus area. Two years later, how successful has the transition been?
Jon Stretch: The transition has been very successful, and we are seeing the fruits of those labours already. Landis+Gyr and Toshiba saw the challenges that our customers have been facing trying to plan and get ready for smart grid development. We know that they need to be ready to act to stay in line with political and regulatory requirements, so we decided to jointly invest in a competence center for smart grid applications.
The Smart Grid Solution Center (SGSC) has just started to operate out of Nuremberg, Germany, with a focus on designing smart grid applications that are exactly tailored to the specific needs of our customers. This has been a significant step in getting the Smart Community business underway. Landis+Gyr and Toshiba now cover areas from energy management systems, renewable integration, demand response, ICG metering and we are continually identifying synergies in already installed or planned advanced metering infrastructures.
The fact that the SGSC is now up and running is a major milestone in Landis+Gyr and Toshiba’s development. Responding to customer needs through providing a service such as the SGSC is a market milestone in itself – this was a first to market concept.
4. Finally, are there any major regulatory challenges on the pathway for smart metering in Europe? Is the situation similar in the rest of the world?
Jon Stretch: The challenges faced by the smart metering industry are not technological, but rather political and regulatory. There is a widespread consensus among policy-makers at the European level that investments in smart metering must increase dramatically in the coming years if the EU is going to meet its very ambitious energy and environmental policy goals. The difficulties, however, are at the national and regional level where national regulatory authorities in the EU Member States and the Distribution System Operators (DSOs) must negotiate over the recovery of investment costs in smart metering and smart grid technology.
This situation causes developments in Europe as a whole to be fairly slow – sometimes excruciatingly so. In many cases, the discussion in Europe is still bogged down in “who benefits (from smart metering), and who pays for what”. Smart Metering needs to be seen – as the European Commission has said – as the “essential first step toward the smart grid.” With that view, we can see that it is a societal infrastructure project, indispensable to the energy supply system of the future. But it is already questionable as to whether Europe will achieve the targets foreseen in the 3rd Energy Package.
That said, however, we still expect to see things get moving in the next couple years. Even Germany – the largest market in Europe – is finally taking some concrete steps to begin the country’s smart meter rollout.
As to the rest of the world, there has been significant smart metering progress in the US market and other markets such as those in Asia-Pacific hold great potential. What we need everywhere is clear, concise and forceful legislation and regulation, and a wise regulator who knows how to “divide the cost pie” to allow the DSO to invest in smart metering and smart grids.
DecisionPoint(TM) Systems, Inc. (OTCQB: DPSI), a leading provider and integrator of Enterprise Mobility, Wireless Applications and RFID solutions, announced that it has entered into a strategic partnership agreement with Landis+Gyr, the world’s leading provider of smart grid and smart metering solutions.
Nicholas Toms, CEO of DecisionPoint commented, “We are very privileged and proud to be working with the world’s market leader in advanced metering and smart grid solutions, and we consider it an important vote of confidence in our products and services.”
The agreement is focused on software tools used by technicians to install, provision and troubleshoot advanced meters in the field. With millions of meters deployed globally, Landis+Gyr and its customers will benefit from improved toolsets that drive operational efficiency. This work will enable incorporation of the DecisionPoint market leading mobility APEXWare Field Service solution as an option for Landis+Gyr customers.
Smart Grid Today has named 50 Smart Grid Pioneers of 2013, including many utility executives, regulators and political figures working on smart grid solutions to electricity challenges globally.
PG&E’s Senior Director of Smart Grid and Technology Integration, Kevin Dasso, received the recognition for his efforts in installing new technologies that enhance the delivery of safe, reliable and affordable electricity, resulting in real benefits for PG&E’s customers.
“We’ve been working on smart grid before it was cool,” Dasso said in an interview in PG&E’s Currents.
PG&E will be starting pilots on several projects at its technology lab in San Ramon, including installing communicating sensors that help detect outages on the grid more precisely and offers more real-time information about current power flows at much lower cost.
Since Patty Durand, Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative (SGCC) executive director joined SGCC in 2011, the organization has produced numerous research reports and insights about consumer awareness and perception of a modernized grid, has grown to more than 100 members, has launched a consumer-facing platform for education and is gearing up to launch an unprecedented national energy literacy ambassadorship program in early 2014 – making her worthy of recognition as a Smart Grid Pioneer.
“Durand is a top-notch leader, inspiring the industry with research, learning and actionable programs designed to educate and inspire consumers about a safe, friendly and resilient electrical grid,” said John McDonald, SGCC board chairman.
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In October 2009, the Department of Energy named 99 projects as winners of a collective $3.4 billion in smart grid investment grants from the federal stimulus package. Combined with $4.5 billion in private-sector funding to match, the Smart Grid Investment Grant (SGIG) program represented a $7.9 billion, one-time boost for smart meters, distribution automation, transmission grid intelligence and customer connectivity technology.
Now, four years later, we’ve got a new update on how the majority of that money has been spent so far, and what it has accomplished, in the form of DOE’s SGIG Program progress report (PDF). Along with this update comes a reminder from DOE that $7.9 billion still represents “a relatively small down payment on the hundreds of billions of dollars the electric power industry will need to fully modernize the electric grid over the next several decades.”
Indeed, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has projected that U.S. utilities will need to invest roughly $17 billion to $24 billion per year to achieve a long-term payback of $1.3 trillion to $2 trillion in benefits by 2030. We’ve already seen reports from DOE on the economic impact of its stimulus grant-backed programs (PDF), as well as independent assessments of how these projects have been delivering economic benefits to utilities and their customers.
But with most of DOE’s SGIG programs still awaiting a final reckoning on how they’ve performed on meeting their myriad targets, we’ve still got a ways to go before the full picture becomes clear. Here’s a breakdown from DOE’s new SGIG update on spending across different technology categories, along with some key points on which categories of technologies have largely completed their work on schedule — and which ones still have their work cut out for them.