Exclusive interview with Jon Stretch, Executive Vice President, Landis+Gyr EMEA – Landis+Gyr returns to European Utility Week as a joint platinum sponsor with Toshiba.
What are you most excited about currently in terms of Landis+Gyr’s products and solutions?
We are particularly excited about the extension of our offering based on our collaboration with Toshiba. Currently, our focus lies in the development of solutions in substation automation and renewables integration, energy efficient street lighting and direct load control.
For example, there will be a number of significant technological advancements to the next release of our Gridstream® smart grid solution portfolio that is based on an open and standardized architecture which allows for regular updates to its core modular components. Due by the end of 2013, enhancements to the existing solution portfolio will include the integration of the new S650 Smart Grid Terminal for LV network monitoring, the introduction of the IEC interface into the Gridstream head-end system, and the easy integration of new out-tasking services for improved system performance. As a response to emerging regulation and customer requirements regarding data privacy and security in smart metering systems, the new Gridstream release will also include secure data communication channels between the smart meter and head-end. The first such Gridstream solution package will be deployed as a part of Landis+Gyr’s smart metering infrastructure for Elektrilevi, Estonia.
In the spirit of presenting a combination of Landis+Gyr and Toshiba expertise and collaborative efforts in the smart grid area, we have joined forces at this year’s event to showcase a live demo environment with the S650 as a key component. LV transformer monitoring, street light control, micro energy management systems in MV networks, and a number of other use cases will be demonstrated at our booth (Hall 1 – Booth A11) in Amsterdam.
What is on the calendar for Landis+Gyr in 2013?
Seeing the challenges our customers face when planning for the smart grid, we have decided to jointly invest in a competence center for smart grid applications with Toshiba. The Smart Grid Solution Center will operate out of Nuremberg, Germany, with a focus on designing smart grid applications tailored to customer needs. This includes energy management systems, renewables integration, battery energy systems, demand response, grid metering and monitoring and, last but not least, finding synergies with already installed or planned advanced metering infrastructures.
The team that has been put together has vast international experience in areas from smart metering to battery systems, power grid stabilizing systems, EMS/SCADA, photovoltaics (PV) and electric vehicle (EV) charging.
At the same time we are successfully completing several smart metering projects, for example with our Finnish customers. Landis+Gyr’s smart metering solution measures energy of more than 1.1 million households in Finland, totaling to one-third share of the residential market. There, our turnkey delivery includes smart meters, communication and software as well as project management and installations for most projects. By including Toshiba technology into our sales portfolio, we can offer our customers a broader range of energy management products while providing them comprehensive support on their way towards smart grids.
What opportunities do you see in Europe?
Looking not just at the rest of 2013 but further ahead, we see that some of the larger smart metering markets are finally starting to move. The French government, after many starts and stops, has finally given the final go-ahead for the Linky project. The British government has delayed the start of their smart meter rollout by a year, but the consensus is that this is not necessarily a bad thing. It will give some time to work out some of the open questions, and we still expect the rollout to be completed by 2020 as planned.
At the same time, Germany – the largest market in Europe – is taking some concrete steps to begin the country’s smart meter rollout.
What do you think makes Landis+Gyr competitive in this market?
The smart metering and smart grid market is characterized by two contradictory forces: globalization and local requirements. The smart metering industry is not immune to the changes that globalization brings with it. The proliferation, standardization and even commoditization of technology does not stop at national or regional borders, and that has a significant impact on our business. Likewise, metering is still a very local business, and our customers, the distribution network operators (DSOs), tend to be very local entities with their own requirements and characteristics.
Landis+Gyr is extremely well equipped to handle both of these developments. We are a global company with a worldwide footprint which, together with Toshiba, allows us to be at the forefront of smart grid developments the world over. Our commitment to quality and innovation is second to none. At the same time, we have local organizations in EMEA that are intimately familiar with our customers in each of those countries. We know our local customers’ needs and challenges and can respond to them with the resources of a world leader in smart metering.
What do you think are the biggest challenges to the European/global energy market?
It depends if you are talking about the “energy market” as such, or the smart metering/smart grid market. The challenges to the electricity market are well known: how to transform a system that was built on one-way flows of power from large, centralized power plants to a multi-directional, dynamic electricity supply system where much of the development is going to take place in the distribution network. This is going to be very complicated, and the transformation will be neither easy nor quick, but it will come.
We are already seeing the widespread expansion of solar power and distributed generation and are being confronted with the problems – or challenges, if you will – that they bring. Mastering these challenges requires a dynamic sensory, control and information system: smart metering.
At the same time, 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 challenges are, however, at the national and regional level where national regulatory authorities and the DSOs have to negotiate over the recovery of investment costs in smart metering and smart grid technology.
What surprises you about this industry?
What is surprising is the very slow pace of smart metering deployments in Europe. We have been waiting for the “smart metering wave” to roll over Europe for the last five years, but it has been excruciatingly slow. There is legislation at the European level in place and the technology is mature and ready to be put in the field, yet the deployments are not taking place. As mentioned, some of the larger countries are beginning to move, but those deployments have not started. If experience is any guide, there will be more bumps on the road along the way.
Anything you would like to add?
Our theme at this year’s EUW is “Joining Forces for Smarter Energy Management”. This means that Landis+Gyr and Toshiba are joining forces to provide expertise – and solutions – in all areas of energy management, from smart metering and the smart grid to smart communities for today’s and tomorrow’s world.
Landis+Gyr has implemented the largest numbers of smart metering projects globally. We are the trusted partner of utilities the world over and accompany them throughout the planning, implementation and maintenance phases of smart metering and smart grid systems.
Toshiba is a world leading diversified manufacturer, solutions provider and marketer of advanced electronic and electrical products and systems. Toshiba Group brings innovation and imagination to a wide range of businesses, including industrial and social infrastructure systems, power generation systems, and smart community solutions. By joining forces, Landis+Gyr and Toshiba are able to offer their customers strength, proven experience, and performance and skill across the energy management value chain.