Smart meter design power backup

Robert Fares Germany smart meter opinionThe debate over Germany’s decision to not adopt widespread smart metering technology has taken an interesting Transatlantic turn with an American engineering PhD student commenting on the indirect costs for the country from a lack of smart-metering backbone.

Robert Fares, who is studying the economic impact of smart grid technologies at the University of Texas, said that without smart metering infrastructure in every German home and business, “German customers won’t have access to the sort of smart energy apps U.S. consumers will see… making it impossible to produce automated energy efficiency recommendations”, according to his blog posting for the journal Scientific American.

Metering solar power

Following a smart grid study trip to Germany, Mr Fares noted that Germany only started requiring smart meters on residential solar installations over seven kilowatts in 2011, so often neither the customer nor the utility has access to real-time production data from solar panels.

He said: “This means that customers can’t spot a shading issue, for example, affecting their solar power production.

“Furthermore, the utility can’t incentivize solar generation at certain times of day, so the utility can’t encourage the customer to, say, turn their panels West to better align solar generation with peak electric demand.”

Smart-meter infrastructure

Fares concluded: “Considering a key part of Germany’s energiewende (energy transition) is the vision of a distributed electricity system, I think Germany should consider the indirect costs of not installing the smart-meter backbone required to intelligently interconnect millions of energy producers and consumers.

“As Germany continues to increase renewable energy production, I’m afraid effective demand-side management could become a binding constraint on development.”

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