Utilities across the world are challenged to provide their end users with more access to their energy consumption information, enable innovative energy mitigation technologies, and integrate new forms of load and generation in the form of electric vehicles and distributed generation. These challenges are encouraging utilities to install two-way advanced metering systems and consider methodologies for integrating charging stations for electric vehicles into their networks.
In the United States, many advanced metering systems are utilizing wireless communications networks due to the distribution grid architecture, small number of homes per transformer, and the proliferation of single family homes. Wireless technologies generally provide the least cost implementation in these types of networks.
Outside the United States, however, the distribution networks are vastly different than found in the United States. Utility networks in Europe, Asia, and South America are constructed to support the large number of homes per transformer created by multi-dwelling unit type living often found in big cities across these regions. Wireless technologies in these markets are strongly disadvantaged due to the lack of coverage, unavailability of spectrum, and lack of standards. For this reason, utilities in Europe, Asia, and South America are leveraging their own wires to create communications networks to support advanced metering and edge device integration. This technology, named Power Line Carrier (PLC), is the building blocks of Smart Grid communication strategies across the globe.
With its PLC-based Data Concentrator product portfolio and supporting software solutions, CURRENT is redefining the way utilities and their end users interact in the Europe, Asia, and South America markets. CURRENT’s Data Concentrators incorporate the PRIME based (www.prime-alliance.org) PLC communications technologies in order to communicate with and collect and analyze information received from third party meter solutions and other edge devices. PRIME is the industry’s only fully open and interoperable metering communications standard adopted by over 25 of the world’s largest utility, metering, and infrastructure solutions providers.
Data Concentrator Solutions
CURRENT’s Data Concentrator solutions portfolio offers unparalleled support for smart metering deployments while providing upgradability to comprehensive Smart Grid capabilities via a range of hardware and software product options.
Data Concentrator (DC)
This infrastructure solution, installed within or at the distribution transformer station, combines communications capabilities utilizing PRIME-based PLC with advanced embedded software to provide the core collection, reporting, and analytics platform for advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) deployment. For metering, the DC offers meter collection, work-order prioritization and management, and provides extensive remote device administration support. Additional features of CURRENT’s DCs include:
- Meter Discovery and Inventory Management – By offering meter-to-phase mapping and meter-to-transformer mapping in multi-transformer substations, CURRENT’s DC provides utilities better visibility of their network topologies while paving the way for more advanced Smart Grid analytics such as phase load balancing.
- Integrated Advanced Sensing / Supervision – CURRENT’s DCs have the option to integrate advanced sensing / supervision capabilities that allow for monitoring the distribution transformer energy and feeder load, phase balancing, and loss detection.
- Integrated Wide Area Backhaul Communications (WAN) – CURRENT’s DC provides integrated support for WAN backhaul communications and routing utilizing cellular (3G) or WiMAX technologies. By combining support for metering, advanced sensing, and WAN communications, utilities can greatly reduce capex and opex costs when deploying an advanced metering infrastructure.
Meter Module Software
Supporting third party meter manufacturers, CURRENT’s meter module software greatly simplifies the development cycles for meter partners adopting the PRIME standard. A platform-independent communications software stack which resides on any PRIME capable meter communications module, this solution offers interoperability with any PRIME data concentrator platforms and provides for assured PRIME deployment certification.
This flexible and scalable meter data aggregation middleware solution enables collection management from any PRIME certified data concentrator and provides for PLC network topology display, statistics collection, troubleshooting, and network performance management. OpenGrid Metering can be easily used in small trials as a standalone system or scaled for millions of end points through integration with third party Meter Data Management software solutions. Because it is standards-based, OpenGrid offers multi vendor interoperability, supports multiple data-export interfaces and is a capable of managing not just meter-collection but additional network and IT services, such as DHCP.
CURRENT’s Data Concentrator portfolio includes communications technology for smart meters and transformers that pushes intelligence to the edge of the network. With a blend of advanced metering, sensing and data analytics capabilities, and broadband WAN communications, CURRENT’s offerings go far beyond the basic concept of smart metering, providing utilities the opportunity to create true Connected Intelligence in order to enhance end user experience and improve efficiency and reliability of the distribution grid.
Interoperability and Performance
Based on the PRIME standard, CURRENT Data Concentrator portfolio offers utilities the freedom to choose meters from various vendors and avoid being reliant on proprietary solutions from a single source. In addition, PRIME offers data rate performance significantly higher than legacy PLC technologies which provides for a foundation for future integration of electric vehicles and distributed generation control.
Because CURRENT’s data concentrator portfolio eliminates proprietary metering approaches and provides for simple integration of sensing and WAN communications options, utilities can realize significant capex and opex savings in their deployment of advanced metering infrastructure.
CURRENT’s solutions not only enable advanced metering today, but the ability to integrate sensing, communications, and additional data analytics provides utilities with platform for enabling advanced smart grid capabilities at the lowest possible cost.
As a founding member of PRIME Alliance, CURRENT’s technology has been successfully operating in major utilities deployments.