• BEAMAEnergy gives ‘smart’ metering thumbs-up

    Following the EU’s approval of a new draft directive aimed at helping consumers reduce energy consumption, BEAMAEnergy says cost-efficient ‘smart’ metering and controls systems in the home are the solution for future energy-saving and carbon emission reductions.

    The director of BEAMAEnergy, Howard Porter,

  • Smart metering – A smart solution to reducing energy bills

    The need for businesses and consumers to become more energy efficient and cut energy bills is making smart energy meters an increasingly attractive solution for managing energy use. Alan Roadway from ABB, explains what’s possible with smart meters and outlines some of the benefits they can bring for domestic, commercial and industrial users.

    Spiralling energy prices and government imposed initiatives and targets for improving energy efficiency are making both consumers and businesses ever more aware of the amount of energy they are using. Part L of the UK Government’s Building Regulations Act encourages accurate measurement of energy consumption. For businesses and industrial end users in particular, the challenge to date has been to identify the most appropriate way to fulfil this obligation. The consensus of opinion is smart meters are increasingly providing the answer. These meters provide users with the technology to gain an immediate and accurate picture of their energy use which can be usefully employed to encourage a change energy consumption behaviour.
    The underlying rationale behind Part L is that if users are made responsible for monitoring their energy consumption, they will take more action to reduce their usage and employ more energy efficient practices. To date, however, it has not been easy for either consumers or businesses to do this. If the home or building owner wants to get a better idea of their next bill, some complicated maths and knowledge of multiple tariff rates is required.
    Energy bills for most buildings are either the result of a meter reading by the supplier, or more commonly, are based on an estimated reading made as the result of the meter reader being unable to gain access to the meter. According to Energywatch, at least 7 million domestic customers receive estimated bills, which can result in inaccurate charges to the customer and affect the ability of energy suppliers to maximise their revenue collection.
    Smart metering technology offers a solution, with meters able to show the kWh consumption figure on an LCD screen.
    For users, the benefits include being able to monitor consumption levels at different times on a regular basis, helping to identify trends. This particularly benefits SMEs, as they are able to get a more accurate idea of their energy consumption before their bills arrive, and be able to take steps to try to minimise future energy usage.
    Another key benefit of smart meters is that there is no need for them to be physically visited by a meter reader. Depending on the meter’s capabilities, data can be collected remotely, using bluetooth, a pulsed output or wi-fi connectivity. This would be particularly beneficial when collecting domestic meter data, as homeowners are often not at home to provide access.
    More sophisticated smart meters can also be connected to the internet, making it possible to include tariff control functionality. This could potentially enable consumers to switch between tariff rates according to normal or peak periods or to switch between tariffs offered by different suppliers. For businesses in particular, this provides the ability to better manage energy costs by being able to monitor the effect of existing practices at different times of the day.
    Furthermore, by connecting smart meters to an Ethernet, business users are able to monitor spending at different office locations, enabling them to identify areas of excess consumption, and encourage best practice schemes across different sites.
    According to Energywatch, the estimated cost of conducting a wholesale installation of smart energy meters into just domestic properties in the UK is approximately £86m. This is on top of the £800million a year already spent on replacing, installing, maintaining and reading existing meters. Energywatch is encouraging the installation of smart meters as part of suppliers’ existing replacement programmes, growing the base of installed meters gradually. However, debate continues as to who should bear the cost of installing smart meters into homes and other buildings and facilities around the UK.
    Utilities argue it would be difficult for them to recoup the costs of installing the meters due to the de-regulated nature of the UK utilities industry, where consumers can move easily between suppliers. This makes it harder for suppliers to pass on the cost of installation to homeowners who can switch to a competitor after having a smart meter installed.
    In Europe, the adoption of smart meters is greater as competition is less intense and government measures and intervention have helped encourage installations.
    However, it can be argued having smart meters installed into consumers’ homes may actually increase trust between consumers and their energy supplier, as they would be able to better understand the information displayed by their meter and thus have a more accurate picture of their costs.
    For utilities, there is also the prospect of maximising their revenue collection through being able to more accurately bill customers based on actual, rather than estimated, energy consumption. For businesses, the case for installing smart meters is based around cost versus benefits. The benefits, in terms of reduced energy costs, appear to outweigh any short-term costs involved in installation. Smart meters will enable businesses to invest in technology that will help reduce consumption in the long-term, by providing accurate measurements of energy use, enabling businesses to act upon the instant information supplied. Commercial building owners can also benefit, as they will be able to get separate readings for different occupants, and monitor their consumption levels accordingly.
    ABB offers a range of energy metering equipment and can provide advice on which meter will be the most suitable for a specific facility. The company can also provide support to ensure businesses get the most out of the meter’s capabilities to help with cutting their energy consumption levels.

  • Smart metering top of the agenda

    In an attempt to increase awareness of smart metering technology, Beama (the British electrotechnical manufacturing body) has launched the
    European Smart Metering Alliance (ESMA).
    The project is part-funded by the Intelligent Energy Europe (IEE) programme, and seeks to maximise the environmental benefits of Article 13 of the Energy End Use Efficiency and Energy Services Directive (ESD).
    “By 2008, all European Member States have to implement the ESD, which requires customers to be given more information on their energy usage, and receive more timely and accurate billing,” said Alliance project leader John Parsons.
    “Through the Alliance, we’re once again at the forefront of developing the case for smart meter technology, and taking the initiative. We’re actively communicating, with our partners, its undoubted benefits Europe-wide.”

  • Acquisition creates metering giant

    Itron has completed the acquisition of Actaris Metering Systems (Actaris) for e800m plus the retirement of debt.
    Actaris operates in electricity, gas and water metering, primarily outside of North America. Itron is a supplier of AMR systems and electricity meters in North America. The combined company will be one of the largest electricity, gas and water metering companies in the world.
    The acquisition will allow Actaris to offer Itron’s AMR and advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) technologies, software and systems expertise to customers outside of North America, and expand Actaris gas and water meter opportunities in North America. The combined company will have more than 8,000 utility customers, 33 manufacturing facilities, customers in more than 60 countries and have more than 8,500 employees.
    Actaris will continue to operate as normal. Malcolm Unsworth, Itron’s former vice president of hardware solutions, has moved to Brussels to assume the day-to-day operations of the company as Actaris’ senior vice-president and chief operating officer. Actaris will continue to operate its electric, gas and water businesses. Itron will report financial results for Actaris as a standalone business with these three operating segments, in addition to reporting financial results for Itron’s previously established hardware and software segments with sales and operations primarily concentrated in North America.

  • Advertisement feature - Improved metering to maximise investment

    Intelligent energy management starts with the application of logic. Those responsible for a building's energy consumption rightly realise that wastage needs to be prevented. However, what is less obvious is  monitoring utilities is not just about measuring kilowatt-hours. In actual fact, reducing utility bills can be a minor part of the commercial advantage of intelligent monitoring, because a greater proportion of the potential for savings is, like an iceberg, out of view

    The integration of energy management and energy efficiency has shifted to an even higher priority as energy price hikes reach epic inflationary proportions. Energy, always an overhead, is now eroding profits and adding to costs at alarming levels.

    While focus tends to be on passive energy measures - such as installing energy saving luminaries and other energy efficient equipment - the real key to achieving maximum and sustainable savings is by adopting active energy consumption countermeasures.
    To use a simple analogy, fitting energy saving lamps and tubes merely mitigates for the otherwise higher wastage when the lamps are left switched on in unoccupied areas. Fitting room occupancy sensors can therefore be regarded as active control that thereby maximises the savings of the entire lighting system.

    In the broader arena of energy efficiency in buildings the task of identifying where energy is used, when and how much is used is critical to targeting the areas that are capable of being controlled. As one obvious example, if the draw on power is identified in an unmanned office area at night, the likelihood is that lighting has been left on, or even that equipment is powered in standby modes.

    Logic is power
    PowerLogic ION technology from Schneider Electric offers an integrated solution to monitoring and measuring power consumption with a rapid return on investment. Professionals from finance departments to building services engineers and premises and facilities managers use key performance indicators (KPIs), analysis and control tools to cut energy and maintenance costs without compromising the comfort, safety or productivity of occupants.

    By installing a network of advanced PowerLogic meters throughout power distribution, building and backup systems, users can continuously track all their utilities and monitor equipment conditions. On the premise than one cannot manage what they cannot measure, enterprise-level software helps identify and sustain energy savings, accurately allocate or segment costs, optimise multi-site utility contracts and maximise reliability.

    PowerLogic addresses a range of important power and energy management applications. Users can measure efficiency, reveal opportunities and verify savings. In multiple occupancy buildings tenants can be sub-billed for energy costs, while in single occupancy commercial situations energy costs can be allocated to departments or processes. Judicious management can reduce peak demand surcharges and even help reduce power factor penalties (reactive energy charges).

    Effective metering has further benefits such as strengthening rate negotiation with energy suppliers; identifying billing discrepancies; and validating that power quality complies with the energy contract. From a facility management point of view metering can help maximise existing infrastructure capacity; support proactive maintenance; verify the reliable operation of equipment; and improve response to power quality-related problems.

    Schneider Electric offers a range of easy to install products, which already incorporate the PowerLogic metering solution. These products are backed by professional surveys that include energy efficiency audits, asset optimisation studies and maintenance services - all delivered by Schneider Electric Services and Projects. Schneider Electric provides ease of use and choice by the installer, and has a standardised equipment offer with the Powerlogic PM750 meter. This has a dual output, pulsed and Modbus so it can be installed and communicate with most Building Management Systems (BMS) without modification.
    Powerlogic metering can enable compliance with Part L2 of the Building Regulations and can be used in all kinds of switchboards, distribution panels, motor control centres and multi-metering measurement centres.

    Over a building's lifetime, millions of pounds may be invested in equipment and the energy that runs it. Determining where excess equipment capacity exists, where it is being overstressed and where to balance loads on substations, MCCBs and other power equipment, is tricky and often left to guess work. Where validation is expected, this is clearly not enough. Energy efficiencies must be compared between departments and capacity in systems identified. Technology can accurately do this better than humans. By effectively monitoring electrical and piped utilities, equipment life can be increased and trend information can be utilised for further cost saving advantages.

    Breaking the mould on monitoring
    In the application of MCCBs, Schneider Electric has recently pioneered a fresh approach by incorporating not just incredible levels of electrical safety, through its protection and isolation functionality but also energy efficiency metering and monitoring.

    The launch of the Compact NSX MCCB embodies features that provide all of these critical functions.

    With options for monitoring and communication functions, the new range of MCCBs is ready for current and future needs. Setting a new standard in its class; protection functions are enhanced and for the first time both energy consumption and power can be monitored at the device.

    The originality lies in how the devices measure, process and display data, either directly on the LCD screen, on the switchboard front panel or via a monitoring system. It is compatible with PowerLogic monitoring software that provides users with parameter sets and tools for comprehensive monitoring.

    Electronic Protection modules incorporate three LEDs to give an immediate and clear visual indication of operational status.

    Far more than a circuit breaker, Compact NSX lets operators better manage electrical installations and meet customer needs by optimising energy consumption, increasing supply availability and improving electrical installation management.

    Compact NSX incorporates many new features that make it more flexible and suitable for an extended range of applications. The roto-active contact breaking principle, for example, provides better current limitation and endurance performance providing very high breaking capacity in a very small space.

    Well suited to motor-starting and motor-running applications, the Compact NSX provides protection against short circuits, phase imbalance and loss with additional protection systems for starting and breaking with the motor running, jogging and reversing.

    Metering at board level
    It is not just devices such as the NSX MCCB that has been integrated with power metering. Compliance with certain aspects of the Building Regulations Part L2 has required the engineering and installation of meters to gather energy usage data. Schneider Electric developed a simple and elegant solution to the problem by offering its Isobar 4c 3 phase split metering lighting and power B type distribution boards with inbuilt meters and communications options.

    The Building Regulations Part L2 a and b demand sufficient facilities to account for 90% of each fuel type by end use category. Since as long ago as 2006 it has also been required to have automatic meter reading and data collection facilities for all new buildings over 1000m2.
    The Isobar 4c gives metering of total load plus separate metering of section 2. All control wiring current transformers and protection for meters are included and fitted, with outputs wired to terminals. For remote data collection and communications, an ethernet gateway and DC power supply can be supplied for retro-fit. The Power quality meters themselves are the state of the art PM750MG models with both pulsed output and modbus communications.
    Isobar 4c distribution boards can also be supplied with extension enclosures for fitting of surge protection and remote switching if required for fitting on site to extend the functions of the distribution boards.

    For split metering units the Isobar 4c 125 or 250amp boards come with a unique new split busbar (for which a patent is applied for) for lighting and power - in three combinations of 12/8, 14/6, 16/4 4/6,6/8 also - but a single overall isolation device. Standard incomers can be used together with split earth bars for ease of wiring.

    Like all Isobar 4c boards, there is an individual unique outgoing MCB connection slider; units are designed manufactured and tested to BS EN 60439 1 & 3; ingress protection is to IP3X to BS EN 60529; voltage rating is 400/415V; and the cable capacity of neutral and earth bars is 25mm2.

    Saving energy is laudable, but to maximise cost reduction an intelligent and convergent approach to power management enables prolonged equipment life, increased uptime, minimised outages and greater all-round efficiency.

  • Metering - Time running out for unmetered distribution

    At the present time, orders for sub-distribution boards to be used in commercial premises only rarely include provision for metering, says Colin McAhren of Moeller Electric. He believes, however, that this situation is going to change dramatically in the very near future

    It seems a very long time ago technical publications, including this very magazine, were full of articles announcing the introduction of Part L2 of the Building Regulations and explaining how this would lead to big changes in electrical distribution systems, particularly in relation to sub-metering. In fact, it was a long time ago: the year was 2006 and the final sections of Part L2 came into effect in October of that year.

    Surely then, with a full two years gone by, compliance with the provisions of Part L2 has become routine? Unfortunately, it hasn't. In particular, Part L2, as we shall see in more detail later, contains provisions that mean almost all distribution boards used in commercial electrical installations should include sub-metering. But they don't.

    How do I know? The answer is very simple. Moeller Electric is a major supplier of electrical distribution equipment and much of it is very clearly destined for non-domestic use. Not many Type B boards, for example, are used in the average home.

    Surprisingly then, most of the orders we receive don't include any mention of sub-metering. In addition, we offer retrofit sub-metering solutions, and demand for these is also much lower than might reasonably be expected. Sub-metering is simply being neglected.
    Before discussing why this is, let's rewind a little and refresh our memories as to why Part L2 was introduced and what it means in terms of electrical distribution systems. The first question is easily answered. Part L2 was introduced to help reduce energy consumption in commercial buildings, thereby protecting the environment and, incidentally, saving money for those that pay the energy bills for those buildings.

    It seeks to achieve this by requiring property owners and tenants to have access to accurate and detailed information about their energy usage. An overall usage figure is not sufficient to meet this requirement; the information must be split between various types of energy usage.

    In fact, Part L2 requires building occupiers to be able to account in detail for at least 90% of their energy usage for each type of fuel used, and that includes electricity. They must be able to say, for example, how much of the fuel is used for lighting, for heating, for air conditioning and so on.

    The provisions apply to all new premises with floor areas of 500m2, and they also apply to existing premises when substantial modifications are made. This is usually interpreted as meaning modifications that need Building Regulations approval. In other words, they apply to almost all premises where new distribution boards are going to be fitted!

    Now let's have a look at the implications for those distribution boards. As it is necessary to account for electricity usage separately for lighting, heating, etc., it's not hard to see that the overall metering installed by the electrical utility company is totally inadequate to meet the requirements of Part L2. What's needed is separate sub-metering for each type of load.
    This is made even more clear in the regulations by explicit requirements for separate metering of certain load types. These include, for example, boiler installations rated 50 kW or more, chillers rated 20 kW or more and motor control centres feeding pump or fan loads with a total rating of 10 kW or more.

    Perhaps the most important of these explicitly mentioned requirements, however, is final electricity distribution boards with loads totalling 50 kW or more. Most Type B boards exceed this figure when fully loaded, so Part L2 indicates strongly that feeds to almost all final distribution boards should be separately metered.

    The upshot of what we've discussed so far is that distribution boards without sub-metering should be very much in the minority but, as we've already seen, exactly the opposite is true at the present time.

    Why is this? That's not an easy question to answer, but the most probable explanation is that omitting the metering minimises the first cost of an installation, something which is always given a high priority by specifiers, even if the supposed economies lead to higher expenditure during the life of the building.

    It must also be true that building inspectors are currently less than rigorous in their insistence on the provisions of Part L2 being met, possibly because they've seen so very few installations where sub-metering is correctly implemented.

    Anyone, whether they're a contractor or a specifier, who is feeling a little complacent at this point about how easy it is to neglect Part L2 requirements should prepare themselves for something of a shock. Just when you thought it was safe to assume Part L2 was toothless, the rather sharper-toothed Energy Certificate for Buildings (ECB) has appeared on the scene!

    From October 2008, it is a condition of selling or leasing commercial property that the landlord or vendor should supply an ECB. Rather like the ratings schemes for things like domestic freezers, ECBs give a rating for the energy performance of the building.
    Buildings with poor energy ratings are likely to prove something of a liability, as would-be purchasers or tenants will have an all-too-clear indication that they'll be spending a lot of money on energy, and that they may well have to spend even more money somewhere down the road to improve the energy performance of their building.

    But what has all this got to do with Part L2 of the Building Regulations in general, and with sub-metering in particular? The answer is that in buildings without proper sub-metering provisions, as prescribed by Part L2, it will be difficult, if not impossible to demonstrate good energy performance. It won't be at all surprising if the independent government-approved inspectors who issue ECBs take a very dim view of this, and give the building a poor energy rating.

    So there it is - no sub-metering is likely to lead to a not-so-good ECB. And a not-so-good ECB will make a building hard to sell or let. It's not hard to see that the end result is going to be a big upsurge in interest in Part L2, and a big increase in demand for sub-metering, both for new and existing installations.

    Let's now look at how this demand can best be satisfied. The most convenient place to provide sub-metering is undoubtedly at the distribution board. It is important, therefore, that any boards used should make provision for the fitting of meters.

    In many cases this provision will be in the form of a meter box, and contractors in particular will need to give careful consideration to how easy this is to install, and whether it offers space for fitting any CTs that many need to be used in conjunction with the meters.
    It's also important that the appearance of the meter box complements that of the rest of the distribution equipment - today's customers are unlikely to be happy with metering provisions that look like a bolt-on afterthought, even if that's exactly what they are.

    One way to meet the need for monitoring energy usage separately for each type of load is to fit meters to all outgoing circuits. This is, however, an expensive and often inconvenient approach, particularly in simpler applications. In such cases, a better and more cost-effective solution is the use of split-load boards.

    While usually having a single incomer, boards of this type group the outgoing circuits for lighting and power loads separately. This makes it easy to provide separate energy monitoring for each type of load with just two meters. Suitability for use in split-load configurations is, therefore, an important factor to consider when choosing distribution boards.

    Some manufacturers, including Moeller Electric, have taken the growing need for sub-metering into account right from the earliest design stages of their latest distribution products. The result is complete ranges of products that make it easy to fit comprehensive metering, whether this is done during the assembly of the board, or as a retrofit operation on site.

    Boards of this type have, for example, adequate room for the internal addition of CTs without them having to be crammed into inconvenient and inaccessible locations such as cableways.

    The best products even allow meters to be added without the need for external meter boxes. With Moeller Electric's XEnergy modular distribution switchboards, for example, all that's needed is to replace the plain enclosure door with one that's fitted with a metering and display unit. This can be done easily, quickly and inexpensively either in the workshop or on site.

    Unfortunately for the environment, and for occupiers of commercial buildings who are denied the information they need to optimise their energy usage, sub-metering in electrical distribution systems is currently the exception rather than the rule.

    This regrettable situation must change, and it looks as if the introduction of ECBs is going to be the driving force to bring this change about. For contractors and specifiers, therefore, now is the time to dust off Part L2 of the Building Regulations and look at it again with renewed focus and interest!

  • Opinion - Moving ahead with smart metering

    The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) is due to unveil its impact assessment report on smart metering next month. Decision makers across the utilities industry are on the edge of their seats, as the Government is expected to decide on a UK-wide smart meter roll-out based on BERR's December report. However, it has recently been suggested there isn't enough data for the Government to make its decision on time. David Hughes, utilities practice director, ABeam Consulting, discusses why the industry should move ahead with smart metering regardless of a public mandate

    As UK plc prepares for an energy efficient future, the utilities industry is under the microscope. While using green energy sources is important in the long-term, empowering customers to be more energy efficient is part of the solution in the short-term. It is clear smart metering technologies will play a crucial role in this, enabling customers to better understand and regulate their own energy consumption.  Providing customers with real-time visibility of the energy they use enables them to see how they can save money, which is the ultimate incentive to change their behaviour. 

    At first glance, the introduction of smart metering within the UK energy market could be viewed as extremely problematic. The installation of 26 million new smart electricity meters across the country will be costly, time-consuming, and complicated from a logistical perspective. There is also the immediate and very real impact on revenue: customers using less energy and ultimately paying less - which will hit the bottom line. An increasingly competitive market also creates issues around capital investment, ongoing asset ownership and supplier switching.

    Then there are the customers, who are becoming increasingly intolerant of poor service. This is driving the need to focus efforts on external change, managing customer expectations and communication, to avoid additional costs associated with unplanned customer contact and complaints.

    Yet, there are massive benefits that can be achieved with smart metering. Aside from the environmental advantages, it enables on-demand meter readings whilst eliminating manual meter reading costs. Smart meters eliminate the human error in meter reading and predicted costs based on previous history.  Removing such errors also eliminates any room for disagreement about billing, saving the customer time.  The cost to serve the customer will be reduced further, as customers tend to respond well to more accurate and frequent billing.  In fact, when tackled in the right way, smart metering can be seen as a huge business opportunity, which suppliers should take advantage of regardless of the Government's pending decision. ‘Smart' suppliers should look beyond the basic logistics and economics of implementation and begin to exploit smart metering as the catalyst for really getting to grips with their customer relationships.

    Smart metering can provide a unique source of real-time customer information, which can be used across a retail energy providing organisation to drive efficiency and guide each individual customer journey. It also marks a shift in the evolution of customer management, from a reactive relationship that is geared towards problem solving, to a proactive relationship aimed at continually realigning and improving the customer experience. In the future, customers can expect to have personalised conversations centred on their individual tariff, product and service needs. 

    The real-time consumption data provided through smart metering can also go a long way to address ‘green disadvantages', such as reduced revenue. It is important that tariff development taps into this detailed consumption information. This enables the delivery of a range of flexible tariffs that suit the needs of the customer, whilst supporting the revenue needs of the business. If applied intelligently, tariffs that help to control consumer demand can be developed, without a hugely detrimental impact on energy sales. Additionally, when combined with effective back office processes aimed at identifying the customer, real-time consumption information can be used to confront energy theft and minimise unbilled periods.

    The advanced metering technology itself offers network maintenance benefits that often exceed expectations. For example, it enables auto and remote diagnostics, which support field force optimisation. This enables meter faults to be identified centrally, tapping into the work management system to send the right operative to complete the job. Additionally, smart metering enables some meter problems to be fixed remotely, eliminating the need for a visit completely.

    In parts of the US and Europe, smart metering is delivering considerable benefits already. In Italy for example, the introduction of these technologies has resulted in customers making fewer unnecessary bill enquiries and paying their bills more diligently. To reap the benefits of smart metering for business and customers alike it is crucial that suppliers treat it as a fundamental catalyst to business-wide change.  Merely tinkering with smart metering will lead to creating inefficiencies in processes, systems and working practices.  Smart metering should be seen as a driver for standardisation and simplification - both internally and for the customer. Moreover, it should be regarded as a business transformation programme with the customer at the heart of future operating models, not just an IT project.

    The question of if and how the Government eventually decides to move ahead with a smart meter roll-out should therefore be almost irrelevant for suppliers. The industry should start pushing for smart metering adoption before it becomes a legal necessity, because those that won't wait for Government enforcement will ultimately have the competitive edge. Suppliers need to remember that they dealing with increasingly demanding, price-sensitive customers in an extremely competitive market, and plan accordingly. To make the most of smart metering, suppliers need to be smart about it.

  • Energy efficiency - Energy performance and sub-metering

    There are a number of drivers affecting energy performance in modern buildings, some of which impact upon the work of the electrical design engineer, challenging him to produce cost-effective solutions but also presenting new business opportunities. Mike Lawrence, product line team leader - commercial assemblies at Eaton, explains

    Principal among the drivers affecting energy performance is the Building Regulations Part L2: Conservation of fuel and power in buildings other than dwellings. This calls for sub-metering so that at least 90% of the estimated annual consumption can be attributed to specific end-use categories.

    Some energy metering systems offered by manufacturers are complex and costly. However, the solution does not necessarily have to be so complex. Sometimes it is possible to install a relatively simple, cost-effective system that is future-proofed to allow more advanced automatic metering and trending (AM&T) systems to be introduced later.

    Energy Performance Certificates
    Since October 2008 an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) has been required by law for any new building or any building sold or rented. First introduced for domestic premises, the requirement was extended in April 2008 to cover large commercial properties. Then in October it became applicable to all buildings, or parts of buildings, when they are "built, sold or rented". In addition, since October a Display Energy Certificate (DEC) has been required for prominent display in larger public buildings.

    The EPC and DEC are among a number of interrelated requirements of the European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD).

    Energy Performance Certificates must be issued by accredited energy assessors. They will give the property an energy efficiency rating on a scale of A to G, similar to the ratings used for domestic appliances. The assessors will also give recommendations for improvement.
    While the requirements for Energy Performance Certificates do not impose any direct requirements for metering, a carefully-planned sub-metering strategy will enable building owners or occupiers to monitor energy usage, identify significant trends and assess the effectiveness of measures taken to implement the energy assessors' recommendations.

    Building Regulations L2
    The UK Building Regulations Part L2 was also driven by the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. It is published as two documents, L2A covering new buildings and L2B covering existing buildings.
    The key requirements affecting sub-metering are:-
    - Energy meters should be installed so that at least 90% of the estimated annual energy consumption of each fuel (electricity, gas, LPG, oil etc.) can be assigned to various end-use categories such as lighting, heating, ventilation, pumps and fans.
    - Reasonable provision of energy meters in existing buildings can be achieved by following the recommendations of Cibse Technical Memorandum TM39:Building Energy Metering (A Guide to energy sub-metering in non-domestic buildings.)
    - Reasonable provision of energy meters would be to install sub-meters in any building greater than 500m2.   
    - In buildings with a total useful floor area greater than 1000m2, facilities should be provided for automatic meter reading and data collection.
    The objective is to develop a sub-metering strategy so that users can identify areas where improvements can be introduced to achieve energy savings of 5-10% or better.
    TM39 is an updated version of Cibse General Information Leaflet 65 (GIL65):Metering energy use in new non-domestic buildings, which can be downloaded free of charge from www.cibse.org/pdfs/GIL065.pdf

    The L2 requirements apply to premises with a floor area greater than 500m2 and existing buildings where "consequential improvements", normally involving Building Regulations approval, are being made. This includes separate buildings on multi-building sites.
    Specific recommendations are made for plant and equipment for which separate metering should be provided as follows:-
    - Motor control centres feeding pumps and fan loads greater than 10kW
    - Boiler installations greater than 50kW
    - Chiller installations greater than 20kW
    - Electric humidifiers greater than 10kW
    - Final electricity distribution boards greater than 50kW
    This last recommendation is especially pertinent because the majority of distribution boards are rated higher than 50kW.

    Metering solutions
    There are various approaches to sub-metering. In some cases all metering is provided at the main switchboard. This has the advantage that meters are all in the same location so manual collection of data is easy. However, on some sites MCCB panelboards provide sub-distribution to final distribution boards and to loads such as lifts, ventilation or air-conditioning plant. These will require sub-metering at the panelboard.

    Final distribution boards frequently supply more than one type of load (typically lighting and small power). If these loads are metered separately back at the main switchboard or panelboard, it will require separate feeders and probably two distribution boards instead of one. If, however, metering of the grouped loads can be carried out at the distribution board it is possible to use a single feeder.
    Different solutions are available at the final distribution board:-
    - Custom-built boards incorporating metering. This is generally an expensive solution.
    - Separate meter packs installed below, or alongside, standard distribution boards offer a more cost-effective solution.
    - Distribution boards with integral metering are now available as standard products.

    In each case there are options for a single meter to monitor the entire board, or for split metering to provide separate measurement of grouped lighting and small power loads. These options are available with both Type A (single-phase) and Type B (three-phase) boards. However, it should be noted that in some split metering applications one meter monitors the entire board. This calls for external calculation for one group of MCB-ways.
    It is recommended that meters should always include remote reading capabilities. As a minimum this should be a pulsed output offering remote measurement of kWh. A better solution is a Modbus design that provides information via an RS485 connection. With Modbus RS485 communication, information is read directly from the meter and some data registers, such as peak demand, can be re-set remotely. If the meter is connected to an effective energy management system (EMS/BMS), it can deliver a more informative energy monitoring capability. Specifiers and installers do not need to go to the expense of custom-built distribution boards and panelboards to ensure compliance with Building Regulations Part L2. A range of metering solutions is now available for type A and type B boards including add-on meter packs for use with standard distribution boards and distribution boards with integral metering capabilities. The design of these units minimises the amount of on-site work for the contractor and the standardised design allows boards to be sourced through the normal electrical wholesaler network.

    Where greater sophistication is required, ethernet connectivity can be used to integrate the sub-metering into a comprehensive energy management architecture for effective monitoring, control and management of the complete energy infrastructure in large sites. Eaton's Power Xpert software allows energy use to be monitored and trends identified so that systems can be optimised to reduce energy costs and achieve a more efficient system.
    For further information see www.poweringbusinessworldwide.tv

  • Second generation of Wi-LEM wireless sub-metering components

    LEM has extended its Wi-LEM (Wireless Local Energy Meter) family to allow the remote  measurement and monitoring of electricity, water and other metered utilities as well as temperature and humidity. It allows industrial and commercial enterprises to break down energy and water usage and identify areas of efficiency improvement. All the new Wi-LEM components feature a ten-fold increase of RF power from 1mW to 10mW, increasing the distance between nodes compared to the previous LEM generation of components.

    By using the 802.15.4 wireless communication standard, which has proven reliability, and the use of split-core transducers, Wi-LEM greatly reduces the time, cost and disruption involved in deploying a sub-metering installation.

    The Wi-Pulse is a new and additional dual-input pulse counter used to count and transmit pulses generated by utility meters. It can easily be connected to an existing Wi-LEM network, expanding the range of utilities that can be monitored - in addition to electricity. Wi-Pulse therefore enables readings from existing stand-alone water and energy utility meters and sub-meters with a pulse output to be monitored centrally using a Wi-LEM network. The new Wi-Zone is a temperature and humidity transducer that connects to a Wi-LEM network, allowing environmental conditions to be monitored. Both new devices are battery powered, simplifying installation as they require no external power supply. They also both feature an internal integrated antenna, making the transducers compact and ideal for retrofit applications.

    The Wi-LEM family of Energy Meter Nodes (EMN) has also been enhanced to offer measurements of high currents up to 2000ARMS. Energy Meter Nodes provide much more information than a simple sub-meter as they measure active, reactive and apparent energy plus maximum current and minimum voltage. EMNs comprise an assembly of one to three current transducers with an integral signal-processing module. They can be deployed to measure energy consumption at any point in a power cabinet and transmit the data. High-accuracy and compact size is provided by the use of split-core Rogowski coils, which also simplify installation.

    All three new units work with LEM's established Mesh Node and Mesh Gate to ensure compatibility with existing solutions. The Mesh Node is a repeater linking various nodes to provide reliable wireless communication in larger installations. It can be added to the network without any need for additional configuration or programming. The Mesh Gate is a stand-alone wireless network management gateway that connects the robust self-configuring mesh network of transducers with a PC. Each Mesh Gate allows the monitoring of up to 200 Energy Meter Nodes.

    Tel: +41 22 706 1257
    E-Mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    Website : http://www.lem.com/

  • Metering - Does your sub distribution measure up?

    Sub and final distribution plays a crucial role in the measurement and control of  energy. It is time for distribution boards to evolve argues Steve Dyson, product manager for Hager

    The whole nature of a commercial electrical installation has changed over the last few years. Just three or four years ago sub metering and the use of control devices or a building management system was a rarity. Not now.

    In the face of growing concern about the environment the government has legislated. Whether or not you agree with this approach, it means that the electrical distribution system has evolved. It is now time for distribution boards to meet these changing needs.

    The most important change came with the changes in Building Regulations in 2006. Part L2 of the Building Regulations for non-domestic buildings states that appropriate metering is included at the design stage so that building operators can monitor where the energy is consumed. It states that the meters and sub meters must account for 90% of the estimated consumption in a building.

    Property owners and tenants must have accurate information about their energy usage. An overall figure does not meet this requirement; the information must show the different areas of consumption. They must be able to say for example how much of the fuel is used for lighting, power, air conditioning and so on. These regulations apply to all new premises with floor areas of 500m2 or greater.

    An ideal solution is sub metering for each type of load. You should also note that the regulations state that separate metering is required for final distribution boards totalling 50kW or more. Most Type B boards exceed this figure when fully loaded.

    Guidance on establishing a metering strategy can be found from CIBSE. The leaflet "TM39:  2006 Building energy metering" is an updated version of the General Information Leaflet "GIL65: Metering energy use in non-domestic buildings".  The latter can be downloaded free of charge from the internet.

    So assuming that the easiest place to provide sub metering is at the distribution board, the installer generally needs to consider using a meter box and whether it offers enough space for fitting any CTs that are used with the meters - sometimes these are placed in separate cableways.

    Such solutions add cost, need extra space and take time to install. The meter box should also complement the distribution board since sub distribution boards are often visible, so aesthetics are important. The whole solution can smack a bit of being an afterthought if you are not careful.

    Most manufacturers will have a suite of products, which will help overcome such problems and it is possible to have custom built boards that incorporate metering. Produced as a special the latter may be an expensive option. I would argue that because sub metering is now such an integral part of most installations, a standard Type B distribution board should now allow metering to be fitted within it.

    Using our new range of Type B distribution boards to illustrate the point, there is enough room next to the incomer to install metering. The metering pack is supplied wired with the appropriate CTs.

    At this point it is worth reflecting on why sub metering is installed - it provides information so that businesses can reduce their energy usage. Regular main meter readings will provide some information about the overall energy consumption, but it reveals little about where energy problems might lie. Installing sub metering will help identify which end use or service is performing well or badly.

    This will enable the operator to take targeted action and then measure the result of that action. Ultimately it should help businesses reduce their energy use and costs. Such thinking also helps to establish where to install sub metering. While we need to achieve the 90%?energy monitoring target, we want to achieve this cost effectively.

    You may expect certain services to consume large amounts of energy, for instance lighting in an office can account for 40% of energy consumption. Certain areas or rooms in a building may also consume large amounts of energy - for instance a computer room in a school. Such judgements help to form the foundations of a metering strategy.

    At this point it is worth referring to the Cibse leaflet TM39. It states metering end-use energy helps:
    - establish the breakdown of energy use within a building i.e. where does it all go?
    - provide a better perspective on building operation
    - identify where energy use is greatest
    - identify what the minor loads are
    - promote a detailed assessment of demand patterns and benchmarking to identify end-uses that are untypically high
    - allow patterns of energy use to be monitored
    - reveal useful trends between, say, day/night, summer/winter, weekday/weekend
    - provide one year moving averages cumulative sum plots comparing actual consumption with targets
    - spot things going wrong before it is too late
    - operators to understand and manage their buildings better, resulting in greater energy savings
    - provide feedback to: building designers; building operators; manufacturers; government and supply side industry on performance achieved, helping them improve performance by setting better targets
    - gain BREEAM credits
    - designers complete the building log book
    - demonstrate compliance with building regulations.

    Of course installing the metering is only part of the story. To be effective the data must be both collected and then acted upon. Sadly it is only too common to see an energy management strategy fail because of this.

    Now it is no longer good enough to simply just have metering. Since the end of last year it is a condition of selling or leasing commercial property that an energy performance certificate is provided - which means data is vital.

    Buildings with poor energy ratings will suffer, as will those that cannot demonstrate good energy performance - whether this is because there is no sub metering or because the data has not been collected.

    To aid collecting the data, meters should have a pulsed output offering remote measurement of kWh or for linking into an energy management system.

    Having measured how and where the energy is being used, the next step is to take targeted action to reduce consumption. In part such action may be behavioural - encouraging people to turn off the lights for instance, but there are also many cost effective solutions that are more effective than the human memory!

    As energy costs rise and the affects of energy performance certificates begin to take hold, action to reduce consumption will become more common. Again, it is at the sub distribution board where  you can take effective action.

    We are finding the use of DIN rail mounted control devices such as time switches, lighting dimmers and twilight switches are becoming increasingly popular.

    Tesco Homeplus stores for instance use a combination of a master keyswitch, digital time switches and photocells to switch luminaires via contactors. The lighting circuits are split so that 40% can be switched on for cleaning and or shelf stacking, with the remaining 60% switched on when the store is open to the public. The photocells will also turn the lighting on or off in response to natural daylight levels from the rooflights.

    More sophisticated control systems also use the final circuits at the distribution board to control electrical consumption. Bus based systems for instance switch loads in response to commands from other devices. Again many of these bus devices can be fitted to DIN rails. The demand for more control devices means the distributions boards must have a range of extension boxes as part of their suite. Ideally they should be modular so that the installer can easily fit them on top, below or on the sides of boards.

    In addition, the more circuits that a board has the finer the level of control available to the designer. It may be that separate lighting circuits are used for those luminaires nearest the windows for instance so that they can be switched or dimmed in response to natural daylight.

    One thing is certain, the demand for metering and energy control is going to increase in the next decade. As one management guru said, "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it!" 
    The challenge for electrical designers and installers is to help building operators both measure and manage energy consumption. The role of electrical sub distribution is at the heart of this process. It is time for manufacturers to introduce boards that make this job simpler to achieve.

  • Siemens and Landis+Gyr to cooperate on smart metering

    Siemens and Landis+Gyr, a provider of smart metering solutions, have agreed a partnership in order to elaborate common standards. The standards will not only establish interoperability but are intended to give utilities the requisite security for their investments in smart grids.

    Changing needs and growing demands characterise the situation of today's power utilities. Main drivers are fluctuating infeed, the need to integrate distributed energy resources, aging infrastructure, multi directional power flow and a changing legal and regulatory framework - to name a few. One solution to these challenges is the expansion of power supply networks to produce smart grids: "We have a full-scope smart grid portfolio with all the products and systems necessary for such expansion, in addition to that we widen our solution portfolio by working with Landis+Gyr," said Ralf Christian, CEO of the power distribution division of Siemens Energy.

    "As a global market leader in smart metering products and solutions we are pleased we have won Siemens as our partner. Together we will build an interoperable path, which will lead utilities – either directly or in stages - to the realisation of their smart grid visions," said Andreas Umbach, president and chief operating officer of Landis+Gyr.

  • Metering – Making the smart move

    With energy efficiency high on the Coalition’s agenda, we are continually seeing various initiatives put in place to control energy use, lower bills and diminish carbon emissions. The latest initiative in discussion is smart meters and how a national roll-out will encourage and direct the UK towards a greener economy.  As the Government calls upon industry experts and providers to submit proposals on how best to conduct this roll-out, Andy Slater, director at smart grid communications specialist Sensus urges the Government to consider all the variables that will contribute to a successful national roll-out

    Details of the proposed roll-out of smart meters in the UK have now been revealed by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and Ofgem. Viewing smart metering as integral to its ‘green deal’ – the policy of enabling households to reduce the amount of energy they use by improving their own energy efficiency - the government has proposed smart meters as the ideal way of increasing consumers' awareness of their energy use, giving them control over their consumption during peak times and allowing suppliers to offer innovative tariff structures, benefiting customers who reduce their energy consumption.
    The Prospectus signifies a sense of determination by the government to roll-out smart meters across the country, partly motivated by the anticipated financial savings in the domestic and smaller non-domestic sectors. In the prospectus, the government points to anticipated cost savings of £17.8bn over the next 20 years, and a net benefit of £7.2bn. Furthermore, the reduction of the nation’s carbon footprint via smarter energy use will, in time, demonstrate the benefits of such an initiative.

    Whilst the end results are deeply encouraging, there is a fear that this urgency to deploy smart metering systems could lead the government to unwittingly choosing a communication network that could cost the UK an additional £1.8bn if the meters fail to connect to the network, due to poor coverage. This is an issue that will be heavily dependent on the type of network technology chosen for the national roll out.

    Leading industry players, including British Gas and Arqiva with BT, have already demonstrated their support for the roll-out, launching smart meter trials with different network technology. It has become clear the two technologies used in trials, cellular and long-range radio, are the two most debated options for national roll-out.

    For a successful smart meter roll-out, key attributes the government needs to ensure are; A robust, dedicated network to ensure performance, security and availability to utilities, underpinned with service level agreements; A cost effective and very high first-time connection rate for meters enabling smart metering to be available universally to all, minimising second visits to homes and any additional engineering costs; a proven pathway for smart grid applications and other utilities, like water, to join in the future with minimal impact and a proven ability to cope with demand.

    It is in some of these key areas other technologies, like cellular, can fall short. This also raises the issue that the government needs to begin stipulating targets for each of these variables in order to observe which network is able to meet them, thereby leading to a conscientious decision.

    Meter connectivity for example is an issue that certainly requires a target, as adopting a network that fails to connect could end up costing the UK more than it aims to save. The government needs to stipulate the percentage of meters it anticipates covering by the smart meter network – a target of which should fall above 90%. Cellular provider Vodafone estimates only 70% of UK homes will have cellular coverage to their meter cupboard. This is not because of a lack of coverage but due to cellular signals not penetrating areas to where meters are actually located. Therefore if cellular is chosen as the network solution what will happen to the 30% (9million) homes that don’t have adequate cellular coverage?

    When looking at other benefits for both communication technologies, it is clear that the benefits of long-range radio over cellular have not been fully appreciated. It is fundamental a robust communications network is stimulated to ensure the uninterrupted flow of information between customer and supplier. Significant effort should therefore be made to create a dedicated and cost-efficient, nationwide platform. In this instance it is too easy to assume this would be a key benefit for cellular as the network is already in place and proven to work. This would be a superficial assessment. The fact cellular is already in use for consumer mobile applications hardly assures it will be optimised for securely connecting fixed devices buried in cupboards and basements like our electricity and gas meters.

    Although it’s a fairly new technology in Europe, long-range radio has proven to successfully provide high first-time meter connectivity rates and widespread coverage across urban and rural areas in North America. Experience has shown it to have a first-time connection rate to meters of greater than 95% within coverage areas - ensuring a minimal number of homes are left unconnected. Long-range radio services like FlexNet were designed from the outset solely for smart metering and grid applications which should instil some confidence into the market that it is a network that can be trusted, to serve its purpose. By offering a dedicated and secure network with universal coverage, long-range radio offers communications of a quality suitable for what should be regarded as part of the UK’s critical infrastructure. With the masts already in place the roll-out of this network would only take a matter of months.

    Whichever communication network is selected for the UK, it must be the one that offers the best quality of service to consumers and business at a competitive cost. If a network type is selected which does not build and protect customer confidence with high meter connection rates and if financial savings could be jeopardised as a result of not doing this, then additional costs and delays will be experienced. Therefore, I urge the government in their consultation to consider setting targets for meters connection rates and to ensure new solutions, such as long-range radio, are fully considered.

  • Smart PDUs provide remote monitoring, metering and remote on/off

    Unipower Corporation has announced a new series of rack-mount AC PDUs (Power Distribution Units) that will find wide applications in mission critical networks. The Vigilant Series are 1U high and designed for 19in. rack systems and capable of providing AC power distribution at the rack or system level.

    Each Vigilant PDU is capable of providing local True RMS Current Metering with a front panel LED. Remote Total Power Monitoring is also provided using software included for this purpose.

    In normal operation these PDUs provide distribution for up to 8 AC loads through IEC (230VAC nominal) or NEMA (120VAC nominal) connectors. Remote Power On/Off with sequencing can be user defined to sequence equipment turn-off and turn-on.

    Other system features of the Vigilant PDUs are remote individual outlet control, user-definable alarm thresholds and the ability to set-up remote “Event Alerts” via E-mail or SNMP Alarm Traps as well as providing local audible alarm.

    “These Smart PDUs provide capabilities needed in today’s sophisticated networks and allow our power customers the ability to one-stop shop for all their power needs,” said
    Nigel Frey – Unipower

    All Unipower Corporation Vigilant Series PDU models meet the requirements of all relevant safety standards including UL60950-1, CSA22.2 No. 60950-1 and EN60950-1 are also UL Listed and are RoHS compliant.  Product is currently available from UNIPOWER Corporation’s factories located in the U.K. and the U.S.

    +44(0) 1903 768200

  • New consumer unit range includes landlords’ metering option

    The Homesafe range of domestic consumer units is the first offering in a brand new range of low voltage switchgear products under the Havells brand.

    Homesafe offers all the control and protection configurations that would be expected of a quality switchgear manufacturer. In addition the range includes units with integral MID Approved meters for landlords’ billing applications.  This reflects Havells’ determination to provide UK-specific solutions through innovation and design.

  • £938m potential benefits of smart metering “results of a worldwide research project”

    “Smart metering installations could cut UK households’ electricity bills by £938M a year,” said Dr Howard Porter, CEO of Beama, welcoming the findings of an independent review of 100 smart meter pilots and rollouts across the world.

    “These savings could be delivered with the current UK specifications - smart metering systems including display devices need to be installed in UK homes as soon as possible,” he added.

    The report identifies the kinds of activities and technology that are needed to maximise the customer and industry energy saving benefits from smart metering. It shows that, if the technology and customer engagement is right, hundreds of millions of pounds could be saved by consumers in Britain every year, and that smart meters could make a significant contribution towards achieving EU goals of a 20% reduction in energy use by 2020.

  • Retrofit L2 metering made easy


    A new range of metering units, designed for easy installation on existing supplies or upgrades, helps to provide energy metering to Part L2 of the UK Building Regulations.  Havells’ MMU meter management units comprise a multifunction meter in an IP65 enclosure, with pre-wired split-core current transformers.  The range comprises 125A and 250A units with standard multi-function meters or MID meters.

  • New video demonstrates faster metering Installation in new MCCB panelboards

    Following the launch of its new Memshield 3 MCCB panelboards, Eaton has created a video which demonstrates how the easy-to-fit plug-and-play metering facilities in the new panelboards makes installation up to 9x faster than before.

  • Faster metering installation

    Following the launch of its new Memshield 3 MCCB panelboards, Eaton has created a video which demonstrates how the easy-to-fit plug-and-play metering facilities in the new panelboards makes installation up to 9x faster than before.

  • ‘Green’ university opts for energy sub-metering system

    Escot, a clip-on sub-metering system by Marshall-Tufflex Energy Management, is monitoring the energy consumption of Manchester Metropolitan University’s (MMU) Crewe campus in a drive to better inform the facility and its students about energy usage and enable it to further reduce its carbon footprint.

  • Complete metering solution for the future

    Carlo Gavazzi will be attending this year’s Energy Event at the NEC Birmingham to highlight its range of advanced energy meters, power analysers, energy management software and current transformers for every energy management challenge including MID; boasting one of the largest ranges in the UK.

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