Interview with Guiseppe Michele Salaris, Chairperson, Meters and More
Please give an update on the latest activities of Meters and More.
Meters and More started in 2010 with the main goal to promote the Meters and More open protocol for PLC communication in smart metering. As an open technology the next step has been to propose it as a European standard for PLC, and therefore we started working with CENELEC towards this goal. During this cooperation we have also established a liaison partnership with CENELEC TC13 in order to support the process of standardization. At the same time we also decided to open the protocol to include as an application profile DLMS, which is one of the most popular standards in this area. The result is now that the specification has been updated to include DLMS and is in the process to be voted as a standard, which we expect will be completed early next year. This is a very important step as it will improve the value of the technology as it can be assessed by the rest of the market.
Meters and More has also grown as an association and now has around 40 member companies. A very important aspect has been that the growth has been homogeneous in each segment of the value chain, from the technology providers to meter manufacturers and also important DSOs such as E.ON.
In this evolving scenario, we have also started a new activity to support the interoperability of products that are implementing the Meters and More protocol. We have formed a technical committee that is defining a certification process with rules and tools and we expect by the end of this year to have these available as well as to appoint test laboratories. This will be an additional force to enlarge the markets.
Are there any specific geographic regions that are of particular interest for Meters and More?
We are very active in Europe – most of our members are present in Europe as of course Europe is a leader in the development of smart metering. We are also active in other continents where we have members: Enel, which is one of the founder members of Meters and More, is active in South America in countries like Brazil, Chile and Colombia, and in Brazil Landis+Gyr Brazil and ELO are members and are actively promoting our association in that country. So we do see some opportunity in that part of the world.
We are also registering interest in other areas such as in Asia in countries such as India, and further contacts may open a new development in that area.
Are there companies outside the Enel-Endesa group using Meters and More?
Yes, E.ON is an international company – they are already using Meters and More in Spain, and also Electrica, the main DSO in Romania, is a member of Meters and More.
We expect more companies to deploy the technology as there are many projects set to start, and we believe the active participation of DSOs such as E.ON and Electrica in the activities of the association will give them confidence in the solution.
These are activities that are underway, but as an association we have also started looking ahead and already are working to enlarge the scope of the technical solutions we provide. We are currently working on the extension of the specification in order to improve integration between the meter and the home, as we believe this is very important. We have formed a technical group to address this aspect.
We are also looking at developing the “More” part of Meters and More and are thinking of other applications outside the meter that are related to PLC that could be addressed effectively. For example members are proposing public lighting control as a topic – but there is no limit to what these applications could be, as an open association members are able to make proposals which we then address as an association.
Another future development I believe, will be to address the smart grid as a more general concept – of course metering is one of the pillars, but I see the evolution as a better usage of the presence of meters throughout the grid and anticipate there will be future development to enrich the protocol, e.g. to support new data models, or there may be new features the protocol can activate.
What makes Meters and More the technology of choice?
That’s very simple – it works! The technology that was the basis of the Meters and More protocol is the one used by Enel to deploy the Telegestore meter – that is running remote management of more than 40 million meters and figures are available publicly on the millions of remote operations per year and the level of success of these.
At a more technical level, we believe the experience behind Meters and More has led to the definition of a very lean protocol that is able to optimize communication in the CENELEC A band – while the A band is free, it is quite noisy, so the protocol has had to be tuned to provide reliability, and we can guarantee a rate of 4.8 kbit/s, which is similar to what can be achieved in practice by other more promising modulation technologies in the A band. So on a cost-benefit comparison the answer is also clear.