Madrid, Spain — (METERING.COM) — April 25, 2008 – Spanish utility Iberdrola has been working extensively on the definition and testing of a new open, public and non-proprietary telecom architecture to support not only smart metering functionality but also to progress towards the electricity networks of the future. Iberdrola thus leverages its extensive experience in the use of low and medium voltage networks as a telecommunication media.
The Spanish Ministerial Order ITC/3860/2007 obliges all utilities in the country to replace all their meters under 15 kW with new smart meters by the year 2018. In the case of Iberdrola, this will amount to a rollout of ten million new meters.
These new smart meters must be able to communicate securely and reliably to a central location, as well as execute the commands and controls received. And all this becomes a daunting task when the number of meters escalates to millions of units, and when functionality associated with smart grids requires real-time communications. In this new context, the critical issue is telecommunications.
This is why Iberdrola has gathered together the relevant national and international industry players in the areas of metering, telecommunications, and silicon manufacturing to define, test and develop an open, public and standard AMI (automatic meter infrastructure), into what is called the PRIME project (Powerline Related Intelligent Metering Evolution). Current industrial PRIME partners are Advanced Digital Design, CURRENT Group, Landis+Gyr, STMicroelectronics, Usyscom and ZIV. A large number of European utilities have already expressed their interest in joining the project.
The technology is fully compliant with EN CENELEC 50065 and in band A, whose use is restricted to distribution network operators. In 2007 Iberdrola performed several tests in different locations of its electricity network, with outstanding results. The success of using OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing), a technology widely used in virtually any modern telecom infrastructure, such as xDSL, Wi-Fi, WiMAX, etc., has already been demonstrated in the field: a new high speed, low cost, PLC generation has become a reality. A large field deployment will soon be carried out based on this new architecture.
The final objective of the project is the establishment of a comprehensive set of international standards that will allow for interoperability between different manufacturers, thus boosting competition in the metering market for the benefit of all stakeholders, particularly the end-user. Contrary to other commercially available alternatives, no intellectual property rights will be held on protocols, modulation techniques, data formats, etc.
In this light, the written specifications to be delivered will be detailed enough for third parties to proceed with the manufacture of interoperable meters and associated equipment, based on the defined infrastructure. The first building block of this infrastructure is the physical layer specification, known as PHY spec, that is publicly available on Iberdrola’s web site. A White Paper on the PHY spec is also publicly available and can be downloaded from the site as well.