Initially, smart meters were promoted for their accurate meter reading and energy savings potential but as French distribution system operator (DSO) Enedis – and other utilities globally– are learning, they are applicable to numerous other use cases beyond this single one.
What does this amount to in practice? Commenting that smart meters are the foundational step of the smart grid, Marc Delandre, Director of the Metering Division at Enedis and General Secretary of the G3PLC Alliance, in an interview with Engerati, explains: “They can be used not only for metering but also for a range of network services such as detecting outages, improving reliability, having better information on voltage, etc.”
And the outcome is “that on our €5bn investment while initially we expected a payback period of 20 years, by adding these other use cases the payback is reduced to five to seven years,” he says.
Enedis currently has approximately 10m Linky smart meters in the field and anticipates completing the full rollout to its 35m customers in 2021.
Smart meter benefits
As an example of the utility benefits, Delandre cites the case of an outage, saying that previously if a customer phoned in without power, it was necessary to send out a field worker to check the installation. However, with the Linky devices deployed, such checks can be done remotely.
“So we save both time and money.”
For the customer the main benefit is the availability of detailed information on their energy consumption via an online app, enabling them to save energy and likewise to save money.
“For example, with electric heating or air conditioning systems, thanks to smart meters customers should be able to save between 10-15% on their electricity bill,” he says.
Smart meter lessons
Turning to lessons that Enedis can offer for smart meter rollouts, Delandre says that the company has developed know-how on the technology and on applications for smart grids and is working with utilities in other countries Europe as well as Egypt and Saudi Arabia on joint rollouts.
In such cases, the smart meters may need to be adapted for the climate or other local conditions, but the functionalities and services are essentially the same.
“The grid is more complicated to manage with renewables and generation at many points in the network but we have a solution with Linky and G3PLC communication,” he concludes.