• 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.

  • Metering goes green introducing the new Tri-load renewable distribution load

    Metering is an essential part of building management systems and allows energy managers to understand how much energy a building is using. However, making sense of the data is often difficult with an increasing need to provide greater detail to where the energy is actually being used. Mike Lawrence of Havells outlines how to maximise your sub-metering installations, keeping them compliant and now with the addition of renewable energy, how to future-proof them too.

    There has been an enthusiastic uptake of sub-metering in the UK since legislation was introduced to encourage it (Part L2 of the UK Building Regulations). This is to be applauded and it is satisfying how many are now recognising the benefits that a well-executed sub-metering installation offers. While this is good news and there are many examples of successful sub metering installations, there is now a large enough body of experience and data to ask whether these perceived benefits are actually being achieved and if not, why not, and what kind of equipment can help us do things better?

  • Powerstar to be virtuous at Sustainability Live 2015

    Powerstar, the voltage optimisation brand will be showcasing the recently launched pioneering energy storage system Powerstar Virtue on stand L20 at Sustainability Live at the NEC from 21–23 April 2015.

  • Substations to facilitate integration of renewables and strengthening of power transmission grid

    ABB, a power and automation technology group, has won a significant order to provide substations and related power infrastructure for the Rampion Offshore Wind Farm. ABB will provide power infrastructure for the offshore platform as well as the onshore substation to efficiently integrate the new wind farm into the country’s transmission grid. ABB will also extend an existing substation that will receive the wind power. The wind farm is scheduled for completion in 2018.

  • Award winners announced at POWER-GEN Europe and Renewable Energy World Europe

    European power companies were recognised for their outstanding industry achievements this week at the Power Engineering International and Peabody awards ceremony during the annual POWER-GEN Europe and Renewable Energy World Europe Gala dinner.

  • Offshore wind park denied

    Energy minister Lord Bourne today announced development consent has been refused for the proposed Navitus Bay offshore wind park in Dorset.

  • Powerpacks for pioneering energy storage project

    Photon Energy, a UK-based Tesla Powerpack certified company, was recently appointed to install four energy storage units at Manchester Science Park. 

    Manchester Science Partnerships (MSP) has undertaken a significant investment in an advanced energy strategy that includes the installation of the Tesla Powerpacks as well as two EV charging points at their flagship headquarters - the Bright Building, located at Manchester Science Park. 

  • Objections force shelving of planned plant

    A planning application to build an electricity generation plant has been withdrawn by the developer since last weekend.

    Under plans submitted by UKPR, an electricity generation plant would have been built on the site of a former waste tip in Surrey.

  • Building a Scottish FM powerhouse

    Facilities Scotland, the only event dedicated to the Scottish FM and workplace industry, has today announced a host of senior leaders from the UK’s FM and workplace industry who will be taking part in the Facilities Scotland conference programme when the show returns to the SEC, Glasgow on the 12 - 13 September 2018.

  • "Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”

    Large electricity suppliers must triple the number of smart meters they are installing, in order to meet the 2020 rollout deadline, consumer group Which? has warned.