Smart metering in Scandinavia – overcoming the challenges


Toger Lien,
former CEO,
Oslo, Norway — (METERING.COM) — March 12, 2009

On March 4 and 5 the industry gathered in Oslo for the 2nd annual Smart Metering Scandinavia conference. An exciting and diverse line-up of speakers presented case studies on their smart metering projects and insights on the latest developments.
The conference was officially opened with an in-depth session on the integrated Nordic end user market. Toger Lien, former CEO of Nordpool, indicated that demand flexibility and demand response is the key to reach the European Union’s 20-20-20 targets. In addition Antti Paananen of NordREG reported that market integration will happen and smart metering will be part of the solution for achieving this.

Conference Sessions Day 1
The morning session continued with a presentation by Thor Erik Grammeltvedt of the Norwegian regulator NVE, who outlined the regulatory framework and metering roadmap for Norway. He also announced that smart metering implementation is probably going to be delayed due to the economic crisis and standardization issues.

Significant advancements in the area of smart metering standardization and harmonization have, however, recently taken place within and between countries, as detailed by VTT and Gemdale Consulting Group, who presented the work that has been done by the Nordic AMR Forum.

The afternoon session focused on overcoming challenges following large scale meter rollout, and what has been learnt from large scale rollout to date. Practical deployment experiences were presented by Sofia Tekniska Verken Linköping, E.ON, Göteborg Energi, and Hilbrand Does from Oxxio. Besides real life experiences, important “toolbox” input was given on sourcing strategy, business process management, system integration, and privacy and data security issues. These presentations illustrated that it is not just about smart metering rollout, but that organizational issues also should be prominently considered. Smart metering implementation affects the organization and utilities should be aware of this.

Conference Sessions Day 2
The second day of the conference revealed evidence and examples of the extensive opportunities that await those who develop smart metering-based demand response and smart grid offerings.

VaasaETT and ECN, for instance, presented state of the art pilot project results from Europe, Australia and the U.S. showing an enormous potential to manage consumption through the use of psychology, feedback, pricing and home automation schemes. The need to learn from best practice around the world and avoid reinventing the wheel was also clear.

NVE-SEAS provided an impressive case study, illustrating how it is possible to segment the customer base in order to develop popular, targeted added value offerings and marketing based on the smart meter. These offerings included a unique lottery based on the read-out numbers on the meter, and a variety of customer information services.

BKK, a utility from Norway, went on to show how interesting future customer offerings can be identified, even from within the utility. It was also apparent from these presentations that the industry should focus more on added value services, rather than added value products. But also highlighted, for instance by Dong Energy, was the fact that smart metering and services that go beyond the meter remain all too often insufficiently mandated, and require more state commitment and support.

Maher Chebbo from the EU SmartGrid Platform and Energinet provided a vision to the huge scope of possibilities and initiatives surrounding the smart grid. In most cases the smart meter is seen as central to such developments. However, as illustrated by the presentation of Tampere University, for instance, future home automation solutions may ignore the smart meter, especially if the rollout of smart meters and related offerings continue at such a slow pace. Companies such as Nokia and their partners are already about to introduce products and services that could largely bypass the energy industry.

It was also pointed out in presentations by, for instance, Capgemini and Taylor Made and Hafslund, that substantial process and organizational developments are also required in order to maximize the benefits from smart meter rollout. Not only should telecommunications be more ambitious than often it is, but also processes should be reengineered with the solutions most appropriate to each process rather than through a key in hand approach. It was pointed out, however, that technology is a means to an end in all of this, and should not be seen, for instance, as a sole guarantee of lower cost-to-serve.

Metor furthermore supported the case for online technology platforms as a provider of greater process efficiency and added value.