Moving electricity meters beyond smart

1st June 2017 | Commercial Energy

Smart meters have had a mixed press in the UK. They’re not as smart as they should be. And they do not offer enough benefits to the users.

Despite the problems the target of fitting them to every home and business by 2020 remains in place. But Internet of Things technology is making smart meters increasingly irrelevant. In 2012, HPE’s research and development department began a project to see how accurately they could estimate the energy consumption of each of the floors and buildings of the 28,000 square meter company headquarters in Palo Alto.

They used IoT sensors throughout the buildings. As is often the case with this type of big data project the analysis provided some big surprises and an unexpected outcome. A detailed survey identified more than 6,000 sensors measuring factors associated with energy consumption such as air flow, humidity, indoor and outdoor temperature.

Electricity Meters

Using advanced correlation technology, the engineers found they could determine heat consumption with a margin of 1 to 5 per cent, and power consumption with a margin of error of 1 per cent. That is exactly the same margin of error which European electricity meters must meet.

The project was intended to support a preventative maintenance programme rather than replacing meters, but is shows that it is already possible to determine the consumption of an office building with a high degree of accuracy without installing any electricity meters.

Because increasing numbers of electronic devices already include IoT sensors to enable preventative maintenance. Heating, cooling and lighting systems in homes and businesses also include such sensors. Widespread broadband access and ever faster wireless networks reduces the need for networked meters. Pressure is coming from more profound changes to the power distribution network. This is changing shape and becoming far more distributed.

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