Landis+Gyr answer your smart meter questions – Part two

In this week’s readers’ Q&A session, Cameron O’Reilly (far left) and Steve Cunningham  answer your questions. They are CEO and UK and Ireland chief, respectively, of Landis+Gyr, the world’s biggest maker of smart meters by market share.

In this second of two posts, they talk about how manufacturers and grid operators can work together on rolling out meters and how big the global market for the devices could be.

Earlier, they discussed what can be done with the data from smart meters, and how concerned the public should be about the use of this data.

Now, over to Cameron and Steve:

Makers vs operators

The responsibility of deploying smart meters is with the retail side of the energy industry, whilst the smart grid sits with the networks. Given how vital it is that these two aspects work together, what challenges do you envisage from a manufacturer’s perspective of these roles being separated?
Tim Field, press and public affairs executive, Energy Networks Association

There are many ‘smart’ ingredients in a smart grid – meters, appliances, homes, vehicles, generation systems and so on. The grid won’t be very smart if any one of these key elements is missing. So in our view, the smart grid actually sits across the whole of the energy system. Smart meters represent the first, prerequisite, step.

Of course energy systems vary worldwide. The UK model is different to the systems deployed during the first wave of smart energy in that it is a truly consumer-focused deployment and this changes the desired outcome. Instead of asking, “How do we make the grid more efficient for operators?” the UK model asks “How do we make the smart grid benefit the consumer?”

The answer is to make each and every element of the UK’s smart grid communicate and cooperate with every other part. And that drives the single biggest challenge for manufacturers.

We have to step away from decades of proprietary thinking and embrace interoperability: each disparate element of the grid needs to be able to talk to every other element, not at the lowest common level of capability but at the highest. Achieving that step-change is going to be a challenging journey – but it’s one we must make in the UK if we are to benefit not just from a secure energy infrastructure but also from the jobs that our leadership will create if we get the model right.

International growth

What is your growth strategy in international markets?
Ziad Al Tunisi

Landis+Gyr has operations spanning more than 30 countries, serving major utilities in every continent. We have every expectation of seeing our footprint grow dramatically in the months and years ahead.

Take Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa for example. They remain incredibly compelling markets for metering overall. Consider that only three decades ago, China and India together accounted for less than 8 per cent of the world’s total energy consumption. In 2005 their share had grown to 18 per cent and by 2030 that figure will have risen to 25 per cent.

Power station in BeijingThis hunger for energy will be much more acute if these emerging economies fail to embrace energy efficient solutions as they upgrade their infrastructure. We see smart metering in Brazil, India and South Africa being focused on revenue assurance, which is obviously a big issue there. China and Russia are also exciting markets with a greater focus on extending and improving network performance.

Notwithstanding the growth in emerging nations, the biggest growth in terms of numbers of smart metering endpoints will be in North America, western Europe and Australia and New Zealand. This is driven by government mandate and also the higher cost of meter reading in industrialised countries than developing ones.

In the US, we have now seen two of the larger states, California and Texas, deciding to go for full smart metering rollouts. In Canada, provinces such as Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec have either initiated major roll-outs or are in late planning stages. Similarly in Europe, we see France, the Netherlands, Spain and ultimately Germany following the lead of Italy and Scandinavia. And of course in Australia, we expect a national rollout over shortly. This is truly a global phenomenon.

Global market

How big do you think the global market for smart meters could be?
Ziad Al Tunisi

Analysts at research firm Datamonitor expect global residential smart meter orders to jump to more than 60 million in 2015, up four-fold on 2010.

What we call “smart metering” today will business as usual tomorrow

What we call “smart metering” today will business as usual tomorrow. It is inconceivable that – with carbon-based energy resources reaching critical levels in many regions and with global demand for energy still climbing – energy metering will be anything other than smart for the vast majority of the world’s homes and businesses within the next 10-15 years.

Unmetered consumption has to be checked and the “quality” of consumption in each country has to become part of society’s consciousness if we’re to manage our energy infrastructure.

So how big must smart metering be? It must extend to every part of every society.

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