Why interoperability and security by design are key


The energy transition is upon us – and the utility industry is in the midst of major change.

The European Union (EU) is building an energy union that is designed to guarantee secure, accessible and sustainable energy for consumers across the EU.

EU countries are tasked with developing integrated national energy and climate plans that address the energy union strategy’s five dimensions:

  • security, solidarity and trust
  • a fully integrated internal energy market
  • energy efficiency
  • decarbonising the economy
  • research technology and innovation.

As utilities look to adapt to these changes, it is clear that smart metering systems, and access to the real-time energy data they provide, are enablers of a fully flexible system that puts information into the hands of the consumer. Utilities are being given the tools for demanded systems that are changing the face of traditional power generation and management.

To deliver on this future, across the globe, smart metering rollouts are gaining momentum. More and more countries are installing meters that provide a granular level of data on energy consumption and usage, giving utilities the power to flex generation effectively, as well as enabling consumer engagement via the add-on of additional services and technology.

Making decisions around technology can be fraught with risk – how do you avoid obsolescence when the pace of change is moving so rapidly and how do you maintain security when connectivity is key?

As an increasing number of devices and players enter the energy environment and we move toward a world of the Internet of Things (IoT), it is more important than ever that interoperability and security are guaranteed.

Interoperability and security are not new challenges for the utilities space – over the last 10 years proven, open standards have provided the foundation and the roadmaps for utilities to follow. Employing open standards supported by global bodies like CEN, CENELEC, ETSI and the IEC in combination with a clear functionality selection through a published and proven companion specification reduces the risk of large-scale meter technology implementations by:

• Decreasing time needed to develop technical specifications, • Avoiding stranding assets,

• Utilising out-of-the-box solutions to address industry requirements, and

• Enabling a competitive, multisource device environment with certified and accredited devices.

IDIS is based on the best-practice learning from successful mass rollouts in France, the UK and the Netherlands covering more than 50 million endpoints – all deployments were underscored by a clear and specific companion specification based on open standards. This proven companion specification methodology is now being extended to, and adopted by, other utilities in Europe and beyond. And that’s the historical learning that IDIS leveraged.

With over 50 certified devices that underwent rigorous and independent compliance testing process, IDIS provides the confidence to utilities that multiple vendors are qualified and interoperable, reducing risks to mass rollouts and providing the basis for multi-sourced solutions.

With the recent release of IDIS Package 3, the specification has evolved to encompass 13 core use cases answering to latest industry requirements. The IDIS companion specification could furthermore be extended to cover utility and market-specific requirements, whilst retaining the core principles of certification and interoperability.

Since IDIS is a companion specification based on open IEC/EN standards, close collaboration with both the DLMS User Association and the OMS-Group ensures a future-proof environment to meet emerging requirements. To support the energy market transition, tried, tested and proven specifications and standards are key to implement the necessary levels of interoperability and security. With the right technology and standards in place, utilities can lower investment risk, reduce cost and ensure the success of smart meter rollouts in an increasingly connected world.

Based on the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 62056 DLMS/COSEM suite of international standards, IDIS Companion Specifications define precise use cases and options to ensure 100% interoperable smart meter devices. The Companions Specification is supported by an independent, proven, and test-driven conformance and interoperability process through certification provided by the IDIS Association.