For early adopters of technology, the path is usually the longest. Later adopters, although later to reap the benefits, are usually able to accelerate deployment and in some cases, leapfrog certain steps. Consider the energy sector and the early progression by utilities, mainly in the US and Europe, from smart meters to smart grids and now, towards smart cities and the many important lessons that have fed into later projects.
Now utilities in Poland, under way with smart grid and smart metering solutions, are looking towards a more comprehensive approach that will also address the needs of smart cities.
“Poland presents some specific challenges as it was previously divided into three parts with different histories and in some of the old towns parts of the distribution grid date back to pre the first World War with developments between the two wars,” Darius Kurowski, VP of Professional Services at Networked Energy Services (NES) points out in an Engerati webinar.
“For example, in those areas the topology and the components of the grid are not well known and it has been necessary to uncover an unknown history.”
Kurowski adds that one of the key challenges has been with the communications. Using smart technologies, NES has been able to eliminate about 70% of the disturbances in the low voltage grid communications but the remaining 30% is “more problematic.”
Smart grid building blocks
In the webinar, Jon Wells VP Customer Solutions at NES, reviews seven “key enablers” that the company has identified for a smart grid for a smart city.
“These have been developed out of the social drivers for the smart city, which from the energy perspective include energy security, sustainability and efficiency, empowered consumers and an optimised infrastructure,” Wells says. “They are the way that we qualify the requirements for smart solutions for application in smart cities and we have found proof points for them from projects we have been involved in.”
These seven enablers are:
● Security, including not only cyber security but also data security and energy security
● Distributed intelligence, or the compute resource, which is the platform for innovation on new applications
● Communications, with the capacity and reliability to handle the increasing data transmission requirements
● Monitoring and analytics, in particular focussed on the low voltage grid where the impacts are primarily occurring
● Remote extensibility, or the ability to deliver firmware and other upgrades to the deployed infrastructure
● Distributed architecture to support decentralised energy and information flows
● Openness to integrate with other smart city systems.
Smart grid proof points
Among the projects presented as proof points for each of the enablers, Wells highlights the Smart City Wroclaw initiative in Poland as well as the Vertpom energy bank in France and Smart Grid Gotland in Sweden as “proof points that add up and provide the greatest relevance to smart cities”.
In Smart City Wroclaw, Wells says that for example the supplier Tauron invested in smart meters with the ability to connect to other utility meters and other devices through the home area network as well as to control.
“This is a multi-vendor AMI deployment with central operational control.”
Commenting on the Vertpom project, Wells says that measurements from smart meters are delivered to a data analytics platform and combined with demographic and other data to develop algorithms to predict and simulate energy supply and consumption at the local level.
“This is a key input to controlling energy consumption through the features of the smart meter.”
In Smart Grid Gotland, he explains that the communications system has been demonstrated to carry other data for monitoring and analytics and enabling Vattenfall to gain insights into the LV grid.
In conclusion, Wells says that going back to the seven key enablers, we need to consider the question that should be asked – how smart does the smart grid and underlying smart metering solution need to be to make a success of a smart city deployment?
“Teams designing energy solutions for smart cities have the choice. Today it’s possible to deploy very sophisticated solutions that score very well on each of the enablers and our view is that doing this helps to guarantee the success of projects.”