Smart Energy International Issue 2 2019



Development and the rate at which countries, cities and utilities develop is a funny thing. The juxtaposition of smart cities, smart energy initiatives in China and the ubiquity of smart meters across much of the world, stands in stark contrast to the uptake of these devices in Africa [pg 60]. We spoke with Shawn Papi, a senior research advisor at the Eskom Research and Innovation Centre focusing on smart metering technology research, testing and standardisation, about the reality of smart metering rollouts in Africa, and the challenges preventing their further rollout.

As part of our coverage for China Utility Week, we were privileged to speak with representatives from a number of organisations leading the research efforts for China’s battery storage, IoT and Internet+ demonstration projects. They share with us the make-up, positioning and goals of these projects in one of the world’s most populated countries. Interestingly, according to one of our interviewees, domestic solar uptake across China has been slow in comparison to other parts of the world – partly due to the very low cost of electricity and a tariff structure regime that does not distinguish between peak and off-peak usage – making the need for domestic offgrid solar less of a priority.

Special focus on smart cities and M2M communications

We explore smart cities across the United States [pg 48], Europe [pg 50] and Asia to gain an understanding of the technologies underpinning many of the foundational projects around the world. Smart street lighting is one technology that is seeing increased utilisation, particularly in the US and Europe. However, that doesn’t mean that utilities in Asia have been idle.

Says Ravi Krishnaswamy: “Smart street lighting is increasingly recognised as the first step toward the development of a smart city, with multiple benefits like energy savings, public safety etc. New business models such as lightingasa-service are exploited in Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung and Makassar. The business opportunity for smart street lighting in Indonesia is four times that of a developed economy like Germany.” Krishnaswamy is senior vice president and discusses the importance of robust financing models for any smart city on page 54. Of course, no discussion on smart cities is complete without including e-mobility. We talk over the role utilities play in the electrification of transport with Dominique Lagarde, director of the Enedis Electric Mobility Programme on page 52.

The backbone of any smart energy/ smart city is strong, flexible and reliable communications infrastructure. Whether used as a springboard for a smart metering project or for the full-scale rollout of a smart city, communication networks are under increasing pressure to transfer more data, faster, cheaper and more reliably. In an increasingly complex spectrum of communication needs, we examine how data acquisition is reliant on strong secure communications and speak with Phil Beecher of the Wi-Sun Alliance about their Field Area Networks (FAN) certification [pg 24]. We also ask the question: What about private networks and licensed spectrum – what role do they play in utility communications [pg 22]?

We hope that this issue will enlighten and inform. And we welcome comments on the coverage of this edition.

Until next time!