Image: Copel

The Paraná state utility Copel in southern Brazil is to deploy smart meters and other technologies to automate its distribution networks.

The Smart Electric Network (Rede Elétrica Inteligente) programme will be conducted in several phases to eventually cover the whole state with what is expected to be the country’s largest smart grid.

The first phase taking place over the next three years is intended to reach approximately 4.5 million people in 151 municipalities in the east, centre-south, southwest and west regions of the state.

The investment is R$820 million ($147 million).

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The first stage starting this year is targeted to deliver 462,000 smart meters with completion by the second half of 2022. The second stage to deliver a further 1 million smart meters is scheduled to go out for tender at the start of 2021 and deployment to commence in the second half of the year.

“The technology will enable a reduction in the company’s costs while improving the quality of the energy supply,” said Daniel Pimentel Slaviero, CEO of Copel. “It is the largest smart grid programme in the country.”

The launch of the programme follows a 5,000 smart meter pilot in the city of Ipiranga in 2018. Findings included a reduction in the duration of power outages by 52% in 2019 compared with 2018.

In 2019 in preparation for the programme Copel inaugurated an Integrated Distribution Operation Centre at its head office in Curitiba and acquired an Advanced Distribution Management System for network management.

Other smart grid technologies including sensors and network reconfiguration devices will be installed and integrated alongside the smart meters to enable real time real time management and control of the network. Over time Copel anticipates integrating other services including distributed microgeneration, energy storage, electric vehicle charging and intelligent public lighting.

Consumer benefits touted included fewer and shorter outages due to weather or equipment failures, remote reading of meters and provision of real time consumption information via a smartphone app.

Copel (Companhia Paranaense de Energia) is one of the largest electricity companies in Brazil, serving over 4.5 million customers across Paraná state. The company has 6.4GW of installed generation capacity.