European case-study: AMI opportunities in the European power market


Conference: Metering, Billing/CIS America
Location: San Diego, CA, USA
Presenter: Jeffrey Michel
Abstract: Presented by Jeffrey Michel at Metering, Billing/CIS America

The European power market presents challenges and opportunities for Advanced Metering Infrastructures (AMI) that differ from conditions in North America. High supply reliability in Europe has obscured the achievable contribution of demand-side techniques for reducing energy consumption. Meter reading is generally conducted only once a year, so that consumers remain unaware of the extent to which daily behavior and seasonal variations are affecting energy costs. The EU Directive on Energy End-Use Efficiency and Energy Services has been formulated to overcome these deficiencies, while the Directive on the Internal Market for Electricity allows wide configuration flexibility in meter usage. Power meters may be bought by private individuals, with installation, data collection, and maintenance performed by metering contractors. 

EU-15 member states are not on track to reach their collective Kyoto greenhouse gas reduction target of 8 %. The elimination of carbon dioxide emissions has therefore become a crucial opportunity for AMI deployment. In addition to demand-side energy conservation, carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced by switching to natural gas or non-fossil suppliers. Groups of meter users may operate as cooperatives to implement aggregate power purchasing and CO2 trading.

The availability of data intercommunication for sensors and transducers within range of the metering infrastructure permits multiple functions to be realized, including monitoring, supervision, and control applications. Göteborg, Sweden intends to become "the first and only ZigBee city in the world" using an Advanced Metering Infrastructure with a multiplicity of networked household and community services.

A "Smart Metering Map" maintained by the Energy Retail Association in London indicates that metering initiatives in Europe remain largely regionalized and dissociated. In Germany, the Organization of Municipal Utilities expects that only 25% of all households will be equipped with an intelligent power meter by 2015. The short-term replacement of existing meters for all remaining customers thus constitutes a viable marketing opportunity for contractors and suppliers. Additional potential ventures include the metering of renewable power fed into the public grid, for which a separate meter is employed to enable accounting independent of consumption. Using AMI meters instead would allow feed-in prognoses to be made in conjunction with weather data while also providing continuous equipment performance monitoring. 

Regional circumstances and even geographical terrain may influence metering configurations. AMI can prove indispensable for controlling energy consumption in enhancing energy supply security. Under corresponding EU SmartGrids research objectives, the distribution networks of the future will serve customer-driven markets. The procurement of funding for appropriate projects may be facilitated by adopting standards and components supporting this objective. The flexible multifunctional capabilities of AMI can be employed in municipal, business, and residential environments. The reduction of energy consumption will diminish requirements for fossil fuel power generation and the greenhouse gas emissions it entails.