World’s first operational NB-IoT smart meters in Portugal

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Lisbon will host the first operational pilot project using smart meters and narrow band-Internet of Things communications technology.

Lisbon’s district Parque das Nações was chosen by EDP Distribuição to pilot the project among around 100 customers, until the end this year. The project is the result of a partnership between four other major companies: NOS, Huawei, Janz CE and U-Blox. 

The solution combines emerging technologies with the smart metering of electrical energy and the latest generation networks to oversee the electricity network. 

EDP Distribuição is using the technology for a pilot project as part of the Upgrid project of the Horizon 2020 Programme of the European Commission. The infrastructure network, using narrow band Internet of Things (NB-IoT) technology has been installed by NOS, based on Huawei’s and Janz CE technology.Huawei and Janz CE designed and manufactured the new meter, using modules from u-blox.

NOS is the first operator in Portugal to test the 4.5G-IoT technology on its network infrastructure.

The Upgrid project focuses on addressing the constraints and needs arising from poor observability of LV grid, local accumulation of distributed generation, risks and difficulties in managing the distribution network, aging infrastructure and social and environmental restrictions that inhibit the grid development. To be successful, Upgrid proposes an open, standardised and integral improvement of the LV grid. The project, led by Iberdrola Distribución, S.A.U, started in 2015 and will end this year.

The benefits of NB-IoT 

NB-IoT, a low power wide area (LPWA) wireless technology, offers a number of benefits including a battery life of up to 10 years, a gain of 20dB over conventional GSM networks and support to more than 100,000 connections per cell.

Based on optimised and bi-directional communication, NB-IoT also helps to overcome challenges linked to the development of intelligent networks and smart energy.

For instance, the automatic detection of power failures helps to improve response and restoration time, thereby improving customer satisfaction. This is especially helpful during storms when quicker detection is needed so that teams can be allocated to the areas more efficiently.  

NB-IoT supports online measurement of consumption, supporting various values per hour, and a range of energy events and statistics.

In addition, demand response functionality is improved, enabling the installed capacity to be managed almost in real time. This function will go a long way in supporting the increase of electric vehicles and renewable energy.  

On a large scale, the solution will support a mature eco-system and technological evolution, achieved by perfecting its features and introducing new elements, in accordance with the requirements of the smart grid.

Improving energy consumption efficiency

The district is already covered by NB-IoT and has been equipped with two NOS base stations, which provide NB-IoT coverage.

Intelligent energy management in the homes of these customers, who will also play an active role in helping to improve their energy consumption efficiency, represents a relevant practical example for this technology.

Manuel Ramalho Eanes, board director of NOS, says the project will help improve the efficiency of energy consumption in Portuguese homes.

Energy efficiency is central to Portugal’s energy strategy, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).  IEA states, in its report, that despite Portugal’s difficult economic climate, the country has continued to develop and reform its energy policies which have resulted in greater economic activity in the energy sector, increased renewable energy deployment, further market liberalisation and greater emphasis on energy efficiency in policy making.

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