Communication technology: role of G3-PLC in European smart metering

G3-PLC for national deployment secured Landis+Gyr’s position in the smart meter rollout.
Published: Thu 20 Jul 2017
Integrated energy management solutions company Landis+Gyr is working with distribution system operator Netz Burgenland in the deployment of a smart metering solution in Austria.

The country has the goal to equip 95% of its households with smart meters by the end of 2019, representing 5.7 million points.

Austrian utilities have set G3-PLC as the preferred data transmission protocol, one of the most commonly used for smart metering, with more than 50 million metering points installed in Europe.

As Stephan Krähenbühl, Landis+Gyr’s Head of the Customer Project Management Office, pointed out in an Engerati webinar in June 2016, “compared with the earlier PLAN technology, the G3-PLC offers several benefits”. Among these, the increased band (up to 500 kHz) that Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) based PLC technology or G3-PLC offers is key to covering additional functionalities, like its security or the demand response functionality for load management.

Krähenbühl claims the communication with the data concentrator is established much quicker, allowing a faster rollout and a shorter time to tackle communication and technical issues in the field. In fact, Krähenbühl stated that “the G3 communication technology was among the main reasons why Netz Burgenland chose Landis+Gyr as partners”.

Landis+Gyr's Teemu Kiijärvi, Product Manager for the Landis+Gyr Head End System, talks about the benefits of G3-PLC for smart meter rollouts excerpt from Energy Efficiency In A Regulated Market: Austria’s G3-Plc Smart Meter Rollout
Regarding the benefits of G3-PLC technology, Teemu Kiijärvi, Product Manager for the Landis+Gyr Head End System, claims that “compared to other previous PLC technologies, G3-PLC provides more capabilities to collect the data faster, with fewer errors and in a more secure way”.

According to Kiijärvi, G3-PLC also enables handling of large data volumes, improved performance, and adds reliability. “So, when we look at G3-PLC we look at four different values: speed, stability, security, and connectivity”

For any PLC communications network, the greatest challenge for its performance is a high level of noise at the DC. Measurements have shown that despite this noise G3-PLC has been able to maintain communications, whereas other PLC communications technologies have experienced difficulties.

G3-PLC smart meter security

Another critical point for a smart metering system is its security, which is defined by Kiijärvi as a “triangle of trust between confidentiality, integrity and availability”. By using G3-PLC, utilities can effectively manage their security risks since everything that goes through the meter is encrypted from the beginning to the end of the chain and no personal data such as a name or address is transmitted, increasing its robustness against cyber-attacks.

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