Germany Ups Its Smart Metering Game Through Collaboration

German utility E.ON has partnered with Siemens to further develop smart metering technology in Germany.
Published: Fri 26 Feb 2016

Germany plans to replace, process and system convert a large quantity of meters, as part of German protection profile and Technical Guideline TR-03109. To contribute to this effort, E.ON and Siemens have signed an agreement which will see the pair integrate their solutions in order to develop a smart metering solution.

Under the partnership, Siemens will provide its smart grid platform EnergyIP for integration with E.ON’s EniM programme.

Improved grid operations and customer billing

The integration will allow E.ON network operators ease and optimal integration of smart metering infrastructure into IT systems to allow meter data acquisition for improved grid management and customer billing.

According to Paul-Vincent Abs, metering managing director at E.ON, by integrating EnergyIP into their systems, they will be able to offer their customers the best possible advice and support relating to the smart meter rollout.

Siemens Germany digital grid business unit head Ute Redecker says that with the implementation of their EnergyIP smart grid application platform, E.ON Metering will be prepared for future rollout scenarios as a metering point operator and when it comes to smart meter gateway administration.

He adds that Siemens is expanding their market penetration by offering a development which will enable utilities to implement smart market applications including ToU pricing.

Improved grid management

The development follows Siemens’ announcement that it has integrated a big data option in EnergyIP Analytics.

Siemens has said that integration of the big data option to EnergyIP Analytics will give utilities and grid operators insights on smart grid data for improved grid management, reliability and efficiency.

The integration will allow the analytics application to utilize various big data options for administering smart meter gateways and meter data processing for external market participants on the German market.

Siemens claims the development will result in finely granulated data for functionalities including energy theft and overloaded distribution equipment detections through grid load analysis, grid incident analysis and end-customer consumption load analysis.

The inclusion of the big data option will also allow the creation of load forecasts for different levels in the distribution grid as well as an analysis of distributed energy resources.

Siemens said it will continuously upgrade EnergyIP Analytics and plans to include new standard Business Intelligence (BI) reports and supporting applications into the smart grid solution.

Smart grids slowly taking centre stage in EU

Uncertainty around the exact energy saving, security concerns and data protection are making smart meter rollouts a challenge across the European region but despite this, the European Commission (EC) believes that it will meet its ambitious goal of 80% market penetration of smart meters by 2022.

Europe is nearing its goal rapidly with close to 45 million smart meters installed in three member states -- Finland, Italy and Sweden -- representing 23% of the installation goal. Italy's largest power company, Enel, spearheaded the effort back in 2001. Stringent government regulations introduced in 2009 helped Finland and Sweden achieve similar results.

Yet behind these encouraging numbers, there is still uncertainty. Without sufficient functionality and consumer engagement, smart meters may fail to deliver promised savings in energy use. In the latest EC benchmarking report, Finland found the average savings to be 1-2%, while Sweden gave a range of 1-3% -- numbers that are below the original energy savings from smart meters forecast.

Innovative metering solutions for Germany’s energiewende

While Italy can claim leadership in the rollout of digital measurement systems aimed at reducing theft, Germany and the rest of Europe are currently focused on more advanced smart meters which will support the development of renewables.  

Smart meters can be viewed as an advanced digitization that enables consumers to control energy consumption and production in real time, according to changes in weather or fluctuations in energy markets. Consumers can use less energy during peak hours or move the time of energy use to off-peak hours, such as nighttime and weekends. In that way they use energy more efficiently, cut bills and save money.

In a liberalized market, there is sound a business case for "prosumers" who switch between consuming and producing power according to their needs. That business case has great value for grids with high renewables penetration like in Germany.

But handling renewables assumes the use of advanced metering systems with high functionality options such as two-way monitoring and short frequency updates that provide minimum 15-minute data transmission intervals.

Germany already has these meters in place. They cost upward of €400 ($448.16) annually and are of value only to large renewable energy generators that can contract their excess renewables for sale by direct marketers such as Grundgrün (Basic Green).

Grundgrün bundles distributed renewables using fast-acting algorithms to then trade the energy on the spot markets. CEO Eberhard Holstein said the company now manages 3GW of renewables, though most of that comes from industrial clients.

The next step -- to get much closer to the customer by bridging the gap at the household level -- is where the real innovation will come, he says.

Smart meters-earning customer trust

While consumer benefits, apart from more accurate billing information, are difficult to assess,  they rely on consumers' involvement and on incentives.  

Perhaps a reflection of this is the low number of EU countries which have completed their rollouts, or arrived at an advanced stage.

Earning consumer trust and confidence has to be part and parcel of the rollout plans-not after the meters have been deployed. It's really a question of raising awareness, as otherwise it won’t work-new advanced smart solution or not.