Ireland’s smart metering project on track


Dublin, Ireland — (METERING.COM) — December 8, 2009 – Progress with Ireland’s smart metering project continues to be very positive with all key milestones to date having been achieved, according to the latest project update from the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER).

The main achievements since the publication of the last update (July 2009) have been finalizing the time-of-use tariffs to be trialled in the residential and small business electricity customer behavior trials, the successful initiation of the technology trials, and progress in the gas customer behavior trials. In addition preparatory work is underway for the prepayment trial.

Researching and trialling different communications technologies is necessary because the unique nature of Ireland from both the perspective of population density and electricity network design means that a substantial number of meters will be using wireless communications, the CER says. This will be one of the first major deployments of this type of technology in Europe. It is necessary because almost half of Irish electricity consumers live in rural areas where power line carrier (PLC) would not be viable.

The meters being installed for the trials will incorporate various communications technologies including GPRS, PLC, and RF. The total number of meters being deployed is now likely to be in the order of 4,000 to 5,000, in addition to the approximately 6,500 meters in the customer behavior trials. ESB Networks is expecting to report back on these trials by mid-2010.

The CER notes that its initial analysis indicated that gas smart meters are most economic when leveraging off an electricity smart metering infrastructure. The CER is working with Bord Gáis Networks and ESB Networks to ensure any overlapping gas smart metering technical trial requirements are included in the scope of the technology trials. Bord Gáis Networks will also conduct separate specific gas smart metering technology trials with up to 500 gas smart meters, for which the details are currently being finalized.

The CER says it also has held preliminary discussions with the Department of Environment, Heritage & Local Government to examine if a smart metering infrastructure put in place for electricity could have synergies with any possible future requirements for water smart metering, and it will continue to monitor developments in this area.

The objective of the gas customer behavior trials is to ascertain the potential for smart metering enabled energy efficiency initiatives to effect measurable change in consumer behavior in terms of reductions in overall energy use. Up to 2,000 smart meters are being installed for the gas trials, the majority (1,925) for an “experimental” trial with residential consumers, and a small subset (50) for gas small business case studies to supplement results from other international small business trials, particularly in Britain.

The trials for both residential and small businesses are set to run from June 2010 to May 2011.

A small scale prepayment pilot is due to be carried out in 2010 to determine the feasibility of the provision of such a service.

Information from all these trials will be entered into a cost-benefit analysis for a national rollout of smart metering in Europe. The interim cost-benefit analysis is due to be presented in September 201 and the final analysis is due in March 2011.