Powering Smart Grid, Solar and Electric Vehicle Charging Solutions to Reduce Energy Consumption and Make a Greener Planet

When it comes to adopting M2M, the utilities industry has been a pioneering force. Beginning with supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems for monitoring distribution networks, smart metering has since become the dominant application. Representing 95% of connections in 2012, a figure expected to rise to 98% in 2022, this application is also expected to account for the lion’s share of traffic during the same period, growing from 95% in 2012 to 98% by 2022, and generating 97% of revenue by 2022 compared to 94% in 2012.

The burgeoning sustainable utilities industry is experiencing rapid growth, and for electronic vehicle charging, the existing 40,000 associated connections installed today are set to rise to 1.7 million in 2022. Similarly, solar applications are becoming increasingly widespread with no signs of slowing down, creating further opportunities for utilities to capitalize on.

Addressing Consumers’ Environmental Concerns while Driving Down Cost of Service Delivery, Anywhere on the Planet

Governments are actively seeking out environmentally responsible policies in response to demand from the wider population, stimulated by two main factors: environmental concerns and rising fuel costs.

Reducing household consumption, particularly in regards to electricity, is becoming a priority for large segments of the world’s population. Smart metering is widely valued as a way to help consumers monitor their consumption. Further, interest in environmental issues has also lead to an increase in the amount of micro-generation and local generation, both of which require substantial monitoring.

Rising fuel costs are impacting domestic and business energy bills. As demand grows, increased pressure is placed on natural resources, and turning to new sources can be costly. Eliminating losses and more effectively regulating usage are practical ways to achieve manageable fuel bills, and can be aided by the adoption of T&DM and smart metering.

Current prices for electric vehicles are prohibitively high in the absence of government subsidies. However, as the cost of fuel rises, demand for electric vehicles will continue to increase and will necessitate a roll out of EV charging points.

Customized M2M Solutions Provide Utilities with Cost Savings, Improved Efficiencies, Flexibility and Increased Reliability

The opportunity for utilities when it comes to M2M is substantial. There are numerous ways that a utility can save money and benefit by connecting various points in its network using a M2M solution.

Cost Savings
The costs associated with sending a person to physically read a meter each month are considerable. Implementing an automated meter reading (AMR) system removes this expenditure. In fact, Machina Research has valued the global savings possible by eliminating manual meter readings at USD $20 billion (€14 billion) by 2020. Further, automated meter readings are much more accurate, resulting in fewer billing enquiries and improved customer care.

Improved Load Balancing
By facilitating improved demand response and load balancing, the requirements for investments by electricity utilities are reduced. Electricity providers must balance demand to make it more consistent throughout the day, but storing spare electricity is inefficient, difficult and expensive as is increasing or reducing generation to suit fluctuating requirements. Being able to adjust pricing to reflect real-time use in the network is a step toward maintaining stable demand.

Flexible Pricing Structures
Two-way transfer of data between the utility and the end-user’s meter allows for more sophisticated charging models, creating the possibility of more sophisticated or even dynamic pricing. Billing based on real-time demand, automated demand response (reducing usage based on real-time pricing) or remote load control (allowing the utility to turn off non-critical loads) creates the option of prepaid charging models. These models are much more flexible than the existing key meter option, creating the possibility of much higher penetration of utilities in emerging markets. To cope with these increasingly sophisticated pricing structures, utilities will be forced to upgrade their billing systems.

Remote Management of Subscribers
Existing utilities systems typically require an agent to attend the non-payer’s premises to disconnect subscribers for non-payment. Smart meters allow utilities to remotely disconnect for non-payment, simplifying the process and reducing costs.

Reduction in Electrical Transport & Distribution (T&D) Losses
By monitoring the transportation and distribution elements of the network, utilities can identify points of loss. This applies to electricity networks as well as to gas and water utilities who can use remote monitoring to identify leaks. In some countries, loss from leaks is substantial: India currently experiences a 30% loss rate, while in Ecuador the figure is 45%.

Fewer Outages
Remote real-time monitoring and control of an increasing number of network elements allow utilities to manage their networks more effectively, including by re-routing connections around faults. Dynamically managing load problems will become increasingly relevant as the electric vehicle market grows, and demand for EV charging develops further.

Increased Lifespan of Network Components
Without a way to monitor the status of a wide range of network components, utility companies are cautious, replacing parts according to a typically conservative timetable. Replacing components only as they degrade will offer great savings.

Advantage of Cellular Connectivity for Smart Metering and Other Applications

Deploying hundreds of millions of smart meters worldwide will be a significant undertaking. Given that utilities are required to service citizens in both urban and rural regions across numerous geographies, choosing the right technology to connect the smart meters, EV charging stations and solar panels is imperative.

Cellular connectivity is one of the best technology options available today. With the massive adoption of smart phones, advancements in technology from 2G, 3G to LTE, cellular connectivity is available everywhere, even in hard to reach areas. Beyond the significantly reduced cost of cellular connectivity and data plans in recent years, there are many other advantages of using cellular connectivity for smart metering and other utility monitoring applications:

  • Maximum coverage across global geographies, especially for difficult to access areas
  • Augmenting coverage gaps in RF Mesh and PLC communication networks
  • Continuous transmission of meter reading data from smart meters at regular intervals
  • Support for 2-way communication to support advanced metering infrastructure use cases

Benefits of Tailored Connectivity Solutions for Utilities
Utilities that are looking for connectivity solutions for their smart metering and related monitoring applications will find that Aeris offers many benefits.

Coverage

  • As a specialist M2M provider, our mobile core network is built exclusively for M2M applications. Data from your devices are never passed through networks being used by smart phone applications.
  • Aeris’ agile nature provides utilities of any size the unique option to remain in control of their own networks, without having to relinquish control to mobile carriers.
  • You’ll have access to the best coverage through our extensive global network. Aeris uses both CDMA and GSM technologies, and in North America alone we have access to the radio towers of 52 carriers, providing maximum and redundant coverage for your devices.
  • Utilities will be benefit from reliable connectivity everywhere within their network at any time, even during a natural disaster. Your solution can be optimized to automatically route to a different cellular tower, should a primary tower become unavailable.
  • With redundant data centers located in San Jose, Las Vegas and London, you’ll find our service is carrier class.

Monitoring

  • You’ll have real-time visibility on the status of your devices, enabling issues to be identified as they occur. Anomalies in data transmission from your device can be monitored through alerts and thresholds. To prevent incurring unnecessary charges, traffic from rogue devices can be blocked.
  • Your SMS transmissions are guaranteed, and we provide delivery acknowledgements.
  • You’ll have access to a suite of troubleshooting tools, such as pings to determine whether devices are active, and forced re-registration for over the air device resets.
  • You can monitor your devices across the CDMA and GSM networks regardless of where they are in the world with our dashboard and single pane of glass portal.

Control and Support

  • If it isn’t obvious whether 2G, 3G, LTE is the best choice, Aeris is experienced in aiding customers understand the benefits of each option. We can also provide support to determine how long the technology will need to be supported. Aeris supports all cellular technology variants, and is neutral when making recommendations. When we determine viability, the main considerations are cost, application requirements and length of use.
  • Customized and competitive data rate plans can be designed specifically to fit your business model.
  • To minimize your total cost of ownership, we offer pooling plans and 1KB rounding.

Aeris’ experience within the utilities sector is extensive. Coupled with technology that can adapt to any of your existing equipment, and the flexible nature of the smart grid and smart metering offerings, Aeris is the secure and reliable partner your utility requires.