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Smart Electricity Metering – the technology of the future

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Globally, electricity consumption is increasing. Mankind needs electricity almost for everything Digitalization is rapidly changing the manner in which energy is managed, from the integration of renewables into smart grids, up to the emerging demand for smart buildings. To meet these needs, electricity distribution companies have to be smart and invest in new technology that increases efficiency without compromising service levels, because detailed metering and monitoring of the entire electrical system is essential in order to achieve maximum energy efficiency.

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  1. What is Smart Meter?
  2. Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI)
  3. What is Smart Grid?
  4. Advantages of Smart Metering Systems
  5. Solutions from ADD Bulgaria

What is Smart Meter?

The smart meter is an electronic device that measures, stores and sends information about electricity parameters such as energy consumption, voltage levels, current, power, etc. Smart meters measure and transfer information to both the distributor and the consumer for greater clarity of consumption behavior, and electricity suppliers can more easily monitor the system and invoice customers. Smart meters typically send energy usage data to the supplier at configured frequent intervals. The system has two-way communication between the electricity meter and the central management software. Such an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) differs from automatic metering (AMR) in that it allows bi-directional communication between the utility and customers’ meters, enabling smart metering functionality. Smart meters provide more detailed data. The measured data is sent at regular intervals to electricity distribution companies who use it to map consumption peaks and gain insights. Utilities use them to monitor power quality and enhance the power flow, improve service, and intervene faster in case of issues such as outages.

The essence of smart meters is smart metering in the context of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) in the scope of smart grid projects, smart homes, smart buildings, and the evolution of smart cities.

Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI)

Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI)

AMI enables the application of technologies, such as smart meters and other advanced metering devices, to enable a two-way flow of information between customers and the utility and to provide them with data on consumption including time and amount of consumed energy and electricity price. Smart meters are one of the key components of AMI, which includes also wide-area communication network (WAN), meter data management (MDM) system and home area network (HAN).

AMI technology is gaining rapid traction over the years. This is attributed mainly to the mounting expenditure on infrastructure development. The onset of commercialization worldwide has also triggered considerable interest in the automation of meters. This is aimed predominantly at mitigating the risk of power thefts.

What is Smart Grid?

Simply explained an electrical grid (or electric grid) is a network with the purpose to deliver electricity from the producer(s) and places where it’s generated and transformed (power plants and substations) to the ultimate destinations where electricity is ‘consumed’: households, businesses, various facilities and also the consumer generally.

Electric smart grid

In practice it’s a highly interconnected network with several components like substations, transmission lines and wiring, distribution lines, transformers and more Smart grid is the next generation electricity network that uses digital and other advanced technologies to observe and manage the transport of electricity from all generation sources to fulfill the varying electricity demands of end-users. Advanced metering infrastructure is a key component of the smart grid ecosystem, integrating software and hardware components, data management, monitoring systems, and smart meters. A smart grid serves several purposes and therefore the movement from traditional electric grids to smart grids is driven by multiple factors, including the deregulation of the energy market, evolutions in metering, changes on the extent of electricity production, decentralization (distributed energy), the arrival of the involved ‘prosumer’, changing regulations, the increase of microgeneration and (isolated) microgrids, renewable energy mandates with more energy sources and new points and purposes where electricity is required (e.g. electrical vehicle charging points).

Advantages of Smart Metering Systems

For years, utilities have been looking for a way to combine consumption with production. Regular electricity meters only measure total consumption and do not provide information on when energy was consumed. Smart meters provide a way to measure power consumption in real time. This allows utilities to make more accurate and detailed analyzes of consumption in different time ranges and seasons. It also facilitates more accurate cash flow models for utilities. Because smart meters can be read remotely, labor costs are reduced for utilities.

Some of the proven benefits of Smart metering include:

  • End of forecast accounts, which are a major source of complaints for many customers;
  • End of the delayed reporting of the spent consumption;
  • A tool to help consumers better manage their energy purchases
  • Monitoring of the entire system through intelligent software provides real-time data about electrical parameters, allows more quickly detection of system disturbances, and immediate corrective action to minimize customer impact, such as interruptions;
  • Smart meters also help utilities understand the needs of the power grid in more detail than older appliances. This greater understanding facilitates systematic planning to meet consumer energy needs, while reducing the likelihood of additional infrastructure investments, the so-called ‘demand management’;
  • Data analysis and making highly effective management decisions. The huge amount of information supplied by smart meters in the database of the control center and as a result of the analysis of the received information managers at different management levels have the opportunity to organize the elimination of various control defects in the electricity network, detection and removal of technical and non-technical losses, the allocation of functions and the prioritization of emergency groups, to optimize costs and to plan investments for future periods.
    Arista CMS
  • Secured data transfer. The system ensure secure access, storage and management of information from electricity meters based on the data encryption and key management system.
  • Ability for integration with third-party systems.
  • Reducing maintenance costs;
  • Reducing time for localization and identification of infrastructure problems and faults;
  • Facilitating invoicing;
  • Consumption monitoring and historical data;
  • Possibility for optimal analysis of consumption;
  • Increasing the speed of service.

The benefits for end users from the introduction of smart electricity meters and systems for remote metering and control of electricity consumption are of great importance, as this implies a wider public acceptance of the introduction of such modern technology. Some of the main benefits for end users are:

Possibility for consumption monitoring. This allows the end user to receive information about, consumed energy, way before the end of the reporting period, thus they can plan much better their spending.

Possibility to create multi-tariff reporting. Intelligent metering allows for multi-tariff reporting. The deployment of smart metering technology gives flexibility to the regulator for a quick introduction or removal of additional tariffs by remotely configuration of smart meters.

Possibility to monitor the quality of the supplied electricity. By allowed and limited access to the database of the electricity distribution company, the customer can monitor the quality of the electricity supplied to him.

Ability to perform a precise balance at the same time of the supplied and consumed electricity. The balance is performed by the system software by analyzing and comparing the quantity of the output of the branch of the substation submitted to the users and the sum of the readings of the electricity meters of all users connected to this branch. This precise technology helps to detect network losses and carry out effective actions by electricity distribution companies to eliminate them.

Opportunity for consumers to draw up precise schedules. Thanks to the fact that smart electricity meters record the customer’s consumption according to a configured period (from every 15 minutes to an hour) large consumers participating in the liberalized market can prepare accurate schedules based on statistic information for previous consumption, current consumption, peak consumption etc. On this basis, they can submit precise requests for the purchase of electricity, which will significantly reduce their costs from sanctions for requested and unconsumed energy or from the need to purchase additional energy in excess of the requested.

Solutions from ADD Bulgaria

Architecture electricity system

Based on 14 years of experience, ADD Bulgaria has been solving serious problems of the electricity distribution companies. With the number of over 1.5 million installed electricity meters and 15 000 data concentrators ADD Bulgaria is a leader in the provision of smart electricity metering.

Electricity meter and data concentrator

The system components include:

  • Electricity meters- Single phase meter or three phase meter – Multifunctional and multi-tariff meter, designed for operation in Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) systems;
  • Data concentrator – Communication and data collection device, providing two-way data transfer between end points in the electrical infrastructure;
  • MDM – Meter Data Management Software.