Half of new smart meters to have HAN gateway


San Diego, CA, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — June 18, 2009 – Driven by energy legislation, open standards, and billions in smart grid funds, 100 million new smart meters are planned to be installed worldwide within the next five years – and almost half of these will have a Home Area Network (HAN) gateway for in-home energy management programs and services.

These are among the findings of two new reports, “Global smart metering” and “Energy smart homes” from business intelligence provider ON World.

The cost of this new smart metering infrastructure will be $21 billion, with the largest initiatives in North America, Europe, and Australia.

“Smart grid initiatives are transforming the metering industry,” says Mareca Hatler, ON World’s research director. “Open architectures, increased regulation, and evolving standards are challenging the status quo and resulting in new alliances that would have been unheard of just a few years ago.”

A benefit-to-cost evaluation found that the inclusion of advanced demand response applications such as dynamic pricing can increase the benefits by at least 35 percent. By providing consumers with real time energy information, they can participate in managing their own energy expenditures as well as feeding micro generated energy sources such as solar and wind back to the grid. Similar findings have led dozens of utilities in the US, Australia and Europe to include plans for demand response as part of their smart metering rollouts.

The reports identify several technology trends that are enabling the smart grid. One of these is open standards. Metering infrastructure investment has resulted in large scale open standards efforts such as the U.S. Smart Grid Interoperability Framework project, the European Commission’s smart grid standards, and the IEEE P2030 smart grid standard.

The emphasis on open architectures has resulted in Internet Protocol (IP) gaining prominence, pushed by smart grid initiatives from Cisco, GE, and Google. Duke recently announced it was working with Cisco on an end-to-end smart grid communications architecture based on IP. The latest trend is IP addressability to the endpoint, as demonstrated by Silver Spring Networks’ smart meter system that is being rolled out in more than 12 million IP addressable meters in the US and Australia.

The study found that WiMAX is a potentially disruptive technology for smart meter networks with its high scalability, large bandwidth, IP addressability and potential for service bundle opportunities. Software simulations show that WiMAX is capable of providing 100 percent completed transmissions in large scale networks of 100,000+ nodes per base station. GE Energy’s yet-to-be launched WiMAX based smart metering system is being trialed by several utilities in the U.S. as well as Energy Australia and SPAusNet in Australia.

An integrated HAN gateway is quickly being viewed as the fastest and least expensive way to extend HAN capabilities for every household. The survey of 77 utilities in the United States found that 21 percent are planning a HAN gateway for every smart meter.

ZigBee, the most popular HAN technology, is currently being rolled out in over 30 million smart meters in North America, Australia, and Sweden. ZigBee offers robust security and low power wireless networking and its Smart Energy profile was recently selected as one of the standards to be included in the U.S. Smart Grid Interoperability Framework.

While the operational benefits of smart meters are becoming clear for energy providers, the studies show that providing customers with real time energy information is the key to building a smarter grid. For consumers to adopt these in-home systems, open standards are essential. While driving the market and enabling more competition, the recent legislation and open standards efforts bring new challenges for smart meter providers. The leaders are adapting with end-to-end offerings and strategic alliances with companies such as Google, an unheard occurrence just a few years ago.