Island smart grid: Tonga signs up Itron for network comms

Tonga island smart grid
Smart grid island: Tonga has funding of US$950,000 to spend on infrastructure such as network communications

In island smart grid news, the Kingdom of Tonga in Polynesia has signed up Itron to supply its communication platform OpenWay Riva.

Tonga’s national electricity utility Tonga Power Limited (TPL) has bought the Itron technology in a bid to bolster network communications across the island, improve revenue protection and help manage customer disconnects and reconnects remotely.

Managing the integration of renewable energy into the grid is also a priority as the kingdom expects to soon generate more than half its electricity from renewable sources.

The OpenWay Riva solution comprises smart meters, Cisco Connected Grid Routers as well as back-office data collection software, including Itron’s meter data management, collection engine and reporting software and Cisco’s IoT Field Network Director.

Serving a base of 20,000 customers on Tonga’s main island of Tongatapu in the South Pacific Ocean, TPL has asked Itron to also service the network and supply cloud-based data collection and storage.

Data communication network

OpenWay Riva combines radio frequency mesh and power line communications on the same chip set to find the best communication path dependent on network operating conditions, data attributes and application requirements.

Installation of the solution will be complete by the end of Q4 2015.

Commenting on the deal, Robert Matthews, chief executive at TPL, said: “OpenWay Riva truly addresses our needs at TPL.

“As a nation with limited energy resources and a large demand for prepayment based metering, we required a solution that can enable us to better manage our electricity in an efficient manner while meeting our smart grid needs both now and into the future.”

Island smart grid

The technology acquisition is part of Tonga’s island smart grid goals.
Tonga Power has started a phased implementation of smart grid technology, boosted by a World Bank funded project that will see the utility installing US$950,000 worth of infrastructure for automated switching in more remote areas.