Analysis: Smart grid deployment in Mexico


Following the launch of the country’s smart grid framework by the energy regulator, Comisión Reguladora de Energia in 2014, players in the Mexican energy sector have engaged in significant efforts in trying to enhance the country’s grid infrastructure.

The majority of smart grid initiatives implemented in the South American country since 2015 to date have largely involved the state-owned utility firm Comisión Federal de Electricidad(CFE) partnering with local and international solutions providers and utility firms.

According to global energy market research firm North East Group, Mexico will invest up to $10.9 billion in smart grid sectors including smart metering, distribution automation, battery storage, home energy management, information technology and wide area measurement.

The $10.9 billion investment is expected to be channelled in the country’s smart grid segments between 2015 and 2025.

Non-technical energy losses

Ben Gardner, president of North East Group said the $10.9 billion will play a major role in ensuring that Mexico succeeds in deploying a large share of smart meters required to equip all consumers with the new metering system.

The CFE announced its plans to use its smart meter installation programmes to improve management of its grid network, reduce non-technical losses and to accurately bill its customers.

In April 2015, the state-owned utility selected Silver Spring Networks’ IPv6 wireless communications platform and UtilityIQ software to provide connectivity for its smart meters in Mexico City’s Central District.

The project is being deployed in partnership with Tecnologias EOS and was designed to ensure CFE improves the reliability of its services to some 140,000 residential and commercial consumers in Mexico City’s Central District.

Under the project, Tecnologias is providing customers of CFE with remote indoor displays to allow them to access energy usage data in real-time.

The project falls under CFE’s ‘Reducción de Pérdidas de Energía en Distribución’ (Loss Reduction Projects on Distribution) smart grid programme which also aims to improve consumers’ energy efficiency.

The decision to implement the Loss Reduction Projects on Distribution was reached by CFE after the utility firm’s non-technical energy losses exceeded 35% in 2013.

Smart meter installation and billing

In February 2016, CFE decided to expand its smart meter installation programme by signing a contract with Landis+Gyr for the provision of the firm’s Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) solution ‘GridStream’ for consumers in Campeche and Quintana Roo states.

The AMI solution includes some 96,000 smart meters and a network to enable the smart meters to communicate consumers’ energy usage data as well as receive commands from the utility firm.

Landis+Gyr is getting assistance from SistinDacema TMX in deploying the projects in line with completion deadlines set by CFE.

Smart grid co-operation

April 2016 saw CFE expanding its cooperation with international firms by signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Korean state-owned utility KEPCO in which the two parties agreed to share their expertise in smart grid technologies and jointly implement smart grid research and new projects.

The MoU with CFE was one of the few agreements signed by KEPCO and local companies including Samsung subsidiaries and TechInt E&C to develop new smart grid projects and speed-up existing smart meter installation programmes in Monterrey.

In a combined statement, CFE announced that it signed a deal with Honeywell for the provision of some 200,000 smart meters. The complete installation of Honeywell’s 200,000 smart meters in CFE’s service territories in east and south-east Mexico would bring the total number of Honeywell smart meters installed by CFE to 70,000.

Since 1992, Honeywell electric meters installed in CFE’s distribution network equal to 1 million units.

Smart meter connectivity

During the end of the last quarter of 2016, CFE selected a consortium of smart energy communications firm Trilliant and Siemens to deploy three smart grid projects as part of continued efforts by CFE to modernise its grid system.

Trilliant’s network will be used to connect CFE with some 634,000 smart meters developed by Siemens for customers of CFE across seven districts of Mexico city.

Trilliant’s network will also be used by CFE to remotely operate, manage and control some 12,900 energy transformers.

Mexico is targeting to install 30.2 million smart meters between 2015-2025, reported Technocracy.

The efforts made to enhance Mexico’s grid systems have forced CRE to consider participation in regional and international organisations to ensure its grid system is in line with international smart grid standards.

In October 2016, the US, Canada and Mexico met at CRE headquarters to discuss Mexico’s participation in international regulatory authority North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC).

NERC strives to ensure the reliability of the bulk grid system in North America through the development and enforcement of reliability standards.

NERC monitors the seasonal, annual and long-term performance of the North American grid systems.