VICINITY project at “Smart Metering: A Smarter Way Forward” by Future Cities Catapult

Wednesday, December 7, 2016 (All day)
London, UK

The UK Future Cities Catapult was set up in 2013 to advance urban innovation to make cities better. They bring together businesses, universities and city leaders so that they can work with each other to solve the problems that cities face. Their Urban Innovation Centre in London provides world-class facilities and expertise in the development of new products, services and business models, and uses these to address integrated urban planning, healthy cities and urban mobility.

The UK is rolling out Smart Meters to every home and business in UK to help meet the EU goal of replacing at least 80% of electricity meters with smart meters by 2020. But what kind of meters will be rolled out and what functionality will they provide? This event was given by Dennis Palmer, Head of GB Smart Meter Programme Liaison, who aimed to answer these questions.

Conference Feedback

Key issues to VICINITY include:

  • Functionality: The smart meters currently being installed use the SMETS2 (Smart Metering Equipment Technical Specifications Version 2) standard which meets the requirements of the Technical Standards and Regulations Directive (98/34/EC) as amended by Directive 98/48/EC. SMETS2 smart meters are upgradeable over the air.
    Electricity consumption will be read by the Home Area Network (HAN) every 10s. Gas meters will be read every 30 minutes. However, this amount of information would flood the Wide Area Network (WAN) if sent directly to suppliers, so energy suppliers will receive accumulated readings (for both gas and electricity) via GPRS over a closed WAN every 24 hours. The Type 2 consumer access device (CAD) will be connected using ZigBee at 2.4 Ghz (see overall block diagram at end of report).
  • Deployment: Smart electricity and gas meters to the SMETS2 standard will be deployed to 30m premises in UK by 2020. Smart water meters will follow. Around 4m smart meters had previously been rolled out using the SMETS1 standard and these will be updated progressively to SMETS2 between now and 2020. In total in UK around 53m individual meters will be replaced with smart meters.
  • Business Case: There will be an estimated £5bn in benefits to UK consumers arising from the introduction of Smart Meters, with at least £900m in benefits to UK energy suppliers as a result of being able to offer and use Demand Side Management (DSM). However, the full costs of deployment have been estimated to be as high as £11bn and so further opportunities for savings should be sought in order to justify the installation.
    In order to fully exploit information from smart meters, dynamic pricing (or real-time pricing (RTP)) must be in offered by energy suppliers. RTP is not currently offered to consumers in UK and so VICINITY Use Case 2 “Neighbourhood GRID ecosystem” involving energy management of smart appliances would not be effective. RTP will require clear benefits to consumers if they are to sign up to it and in the US, for example, less than 1% of eligible customers have enrolled for RTP.
    The real motivation for deployment could be that “Smart Meters are an enabler for the Smart Grid” and their installation could result in many more opportunities for new services and savings. VICINITY should help to prove this.
  • Security: With the Smart Meter software able to be upgraded over the air, security is paramount in order to avoid the installation of viruses and trojans. Adequate security is guaranteed by using encryption and decryption of the data and authentication of the devices.
    Note that VICINITY SAB member, Charles Brookson (Chair of ETSI TC Cyber) is not convinced that security with reliance on only one communication key will be adequate to prevent the above.
  • Privacy: Consumers and businesses have the right to say no to having a smart meter installed. However, when the meter is next due for replacement it will be replaced with a smart meter.

Useful Links:

Future Cities Catapult

SMETS Smart Metering standards

The inquirer – Security Issues

The register

The times