By Ms Sapna Mongia, Head – Smart Grids and Metering, South Asia, Power and Discretes, STMicroelectronics and Mr Alessandro Moscatelli, Marketing Manager in charge of Smart Grids, STMicroelectronics
Smart grids- An overview
Governments and power companies across the world have recognized that the traditional grid, which has not significantly changed in 100 years, must be replaced by more efficient, flexible and intelligent energy-distribution networks, called smart grids. These are digitally monitored; self-healing energy systems that deliver electricity or gas from generation sources, including distributed renewable
sources, to points of consumption. They optimize power delivery and facilitate two-way communication across the grid, enabling end-user energy management, minimizing power disruptions and transporting only the required amount of power. The result is lower cost to the utility and the customer, more reliable
power and reduced carbon emissions.
Smart meters find their use in residential and industrial metering sector for electricity and gas meters where there is a need to know real time information on energy usage. Consumers and Utilities are able to monitor their energy consumption. It enables utilities to plug any communication module on to a smart meter, giving them flexibility to communicate wirelessly using various technologies like LPRF radio modules or GSM/GPRS or through wired medium (PLC or RS-485). The smart meter can communicate over IPV6 network giving the consumer and utility, information and complete control over power usage.
At STMicroelectronics, we offer a complete set of semiconductor products to implement energy, water, heat and gas meters, as well as concentrators or multi utility controllers. The portfolio includes power-line modems, 8- and 32-bit microcontrollers, 32-bit microprocessors, ASSPs for metrology,
real-time clocks, EEPROMs, power supply products and security products.
Smart meter- The Indian scenario
The India power sector is challenged by power loss during transmission and distribution. The Indian Electricity market is facing a serious challenges in providing continuous power supply to the consumers. By implementing prepaid smart meters in the residential segment, utilities can benefit by collecting the cash before consumption. By using the feature of “Remote Disconnect” functionality, utilities can remove a customer who has not paid the bills. Consumers are able to monitor their energy consumption patterns and also watch their usage costs on an in-home display unit and as a consequence, they can change their consumption patterns. Consumers also adapt to use energy when it is cheaper as per the different schemes offered by the utilities. Also, the in-built tamper control feature in smart meters facilitates the utility to check power theft. The consumer’s energy usage patterns are analyzed to detect unexpected consumption patterns, and can indicate a potential theft. The smart meter specifications include 6LowPAN, IEEE802.15.4/15.4g protocols and DLMS on application layer for communication. With DLMS as a standard application, protocol smart meters will incorporate any future communication technology module.
Smart metering is the key focus from government and the state utilities are focusing on smart metering to improve grid infrastructure.
Smart grid in India
Smart grid in India is becoming the key application in the Indian power sector. Smart meters will help to overcome the challenges in the power sector as they will enable utilities to access energy consumption data remotely without manually reading the meter. This data can be accessed frequently as required and is also available at the consumer’s premises on the ‘in-home’ display unit. So, the communication feature of the smart meter enables the utility to manage power load and reduce losses. Depending on the load requirement and by constant monitoring of the load of a particular area, the utilities can implement the different tariff plans for that area to manage peak hour demand. Also, smart meters will help to check thefts, and monitor the quality of power supplied to the consumers.
Communication standards in smart metering
PLC is by far the most commonly adopted communication technology for smart metering, with more than 50 million installed points just in Europe, thanks to communication proven reliability and lower CAPEX and OPEX figures compared to other technologies. Among multiple available PLC technologies, European Commission has selected ‘“Meters and More’, ‘PRIME’ and ‘PLC-G3’ as the most suitable standards for smart metering roll-outs.
Europe is one of the countries with the largest power line communication based smart metering programs running on field and one of the most advanced in terms of regulations and standards framework guidelines. This experience is a valuable asset for all countries outside Europe who are approaching smart metering implementations and are looking for a cost-effective, reliable, interoperable and future-proof massive deployment. For smart meter to data concentration ‘last mile’ connectivity, ‘OPEN meter’ project selected power line communication (PLC) as the most suitable technology. Among several PLC technologies and specifications analyzed, including both narrow-band and broad-band technologies, only three open communication specifications have been selected as able to satisfy the AMI defined architecture and requirements: ‘Meters and More’ (then published as CENELEC CLC pr TS 50568-4 standard), ‘PRIME’ (then published as CENELEC CLC pr TS 50567-1 standard and ITU-T G.9904) and ‘G3-PLC’ protocols (then published as CENELEC CLC pr TS 50567-2 standard and ITU-T G.9903).
STMicroelectronics is a leader in smart grid solutions around the world, with a 20 years experience in this field. Our new platform, STComet is a complete meter system on chip. STCOMET is a device that integrates a PLC modem, a high-performance application core and metrology functions. STCOMET SoC has become one of the first two ICs to complete the new G3-PLC™ certification program announced by the G3-PLC Alliance in September 2014.STCOMET has also recently passed interoperability tests for PRIME® 1.4, the latest version of the PRIME Alliance PLC standard used by over four million smart meters in service today. It is already certified to PRIME 1.3.6, and supports S-FSK IEC61 334-5-1, METERS AND MORE®, and IEEE 1901.2 PLC standards. STCOMET is among the first chipsets to pass interoperability testing, allowing new equipment to benefit from the latest advances while also ensuring compatibility with existing infrastructure. G3-PLC is a smart-grid communication protocol with features that help ensure efficient use of frequency spectrum and high immunity to noisy channel conditions. STCOMET is among the first two ICs to pass the G3-PLC certification program, enabling smart-meter producers to create high-performing and interoperable products.