As in all contexts, technology inside the home is also changing. In fact, we are starting to talk more and more frequently about smart metering, i.e. systems for reading and managing electricity, gas and water meters. At a distance.
It is a new technology, based on two cornerstones:
- The smart grid that combines information exchange with the power grid in order to automate and optimize the electricity system.
- And smart meters, that is, smart meters that allow precise measurements at a distance.
But let’s go over the various aspects of this new technology in more detail.
Smart meter and smart grid
When it comes to smart metering, the advantages are many:
- Lower costs for readings and contract management operations (activation, change of operator and so on) since they can be carried out remotely
- Higher frequency of readings and checks that are carried out without the need of an operator
- Greater user awareness that turns into greater energy efficiency and wise use of resources, since the consumer is aware of his consumption, knows how much he consumes and how much he impacts on the environment
- Better network management through easier localization of losses.
- For energy and gas, facilitated market competition
- Greater attitude to savings
A crucial element is the smart meter, which allows precise measurement of consumption of:
The smart meters are inserted in the smart grid and use the transmission of data to remotely send the measurements made. The smart meters, in fact, detect the amount of energy in and out, optimizing data collection and communication to users.
The smart meter
The smart meter is an intelligent meter that records in memory the amount of energy used weekly and daily. Once the data is stored, the smart meter transmits it via PLC waves (amount of data and information sent via power grid waves) or via radio frequencies.
Distribution companies receive the data and, after checking it, forward it to sales companies who can in turn use it to establish bills and offers.
In a nutshell, smart meters automatically detect consumption and transmit it to the sales companies (via the distribution companies). The latter in turn use them to monitor the market and develop offers.
Smart meter between Italy and Europe
Surprisingly, Italy was the first country in Europe to install smart meters and a smart grid. As early as 2001, energy distribution companies introduced Generation I smart meters and offered them to their customers.
Anticipating many European countries, in 2007 the ARERA resolution imposed the mandatory deployment, which was completed in 2011. In comparison, only Sweden has done better (keeping in mind the due differences) creating an effective network in the period 2003-2009.
To give an idea of deployment in Europe:
- Spain completed its network between 2011 and 2018
- Austria started in 2012 and plans to finish it by 2022
- The United Kingdom completed its network between 2012 and 2020
- France has completed its work between 2015 and 2021
- Poland started in 2012
European Directive 2012/27 launched guidelines for a more efficient energy grid, spurring European-wide deployment, albeit with its own challenges.
Offers and market
The spread of smart meters has made it easier to read consumption, with widespread usage data and a reworking of offers. This has led to the creation of different types of offers.
In general, offers are structured:
- By time slot: they divide the day into several time slots (monorary, biorary, F0 and so on) offering customization based on the time spent in the home;
- At variable prices: focused on flexibility and designed for an informed consumer, able to predict and plan their consumption to take advantage of the best prices;
- Reduced rates: based on discounted rates for certain time sequences such as weekends or nights.
There are further variations in Europe: from prepaid offers in the UK to the protected market for hourly rates as in Spain.
The situation in Italy
Following the European directive for energy efficiency, Italy has implemented Generation II (2G) of meters. The network is expected to be renewed by 2024 with a sequence of final interventions until 2031.
The new generation meters aim to:
- Better detect consumption
- Decrease data transmission time to vendors to 24 hours
- Efficient reading and consumption management
- Allow real-time display of consumption data
- Notify anomalies automatically
Being the property of the distribution company, smart meters are installed externally to facilitate technical interventions. Their installation cannot be refused precisely because they belong in any case to the distributor and are mounted outside the home. Meters are also installed inside buildings, but in this case it is the user’s responsibility to let the distributor’s personnel access them when requested by the latter.
Smart Meter Advantages
Next-generation smart meters represent a significant improvement over their older counterparts. In fact, they provide:
Longer device lifetime
Better integration of the property into the smart grid
In addition, there are a number of implications related to the operation of 2.0 meters and the associated grid:
Flexible pricing: The daily collection and communication of data more and more frequently guarantee flexible pricing up to 6 price ranges. Each customer will therefore be able to customize his supply on the basis of his consumption profile;
Stable and efficient grid: The smart grid is becoming more and more extensive, intricate and efficient. This means that an increasingly precise management is created that is able to manage consumption peaks and better distribute the quantities of energy;
Bills in line with consumption: The continuous measurement and transmission of data, mean that the bills are based on actual consumption, rather than estimates and adjustments prone to errors;
Remote intervention: The intervention of the technician will no longer be necessary, as control and repair operations can be carried out remotely.
Continuous consumption monitoring and precise supply management: 2.0 meters offer day-to-day monitoring and an interface with third-party companies that allow detailed analysis of consumption. The accuracy of the measurement and transmission in turn allows an easier management of the supply in case of relocation, transfer or other.
An energy community is simply the practical and virtuous implementation of smart cities in real everyday life. In fact, installing a smart meter inside a housing complex, where simple consumers or consumers and producers (i.e. who installs a photovoltaic system) coexist, can become the first step for a digitization of the energy of one’s own home, but above all for the establishment of an Energy Community. If this smart meter is then associated with an intelligent gateway such as SNOCU P&P or SNOCU DIN by Regalgrid, optimizing energy exchange in the Energy Community undoubtedly becomes easier because thanks to Regalgrid’s patented algorithms that allow for OPTIMIZED energy exchange between neighbors and a smart meter that detects consumption and allows the user to get to know himself as an energy consumer, the Energy Community could reach its maximum value.