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What connects ripple control and smart metering?

Berlin, 06/30/2014 -

Bosch Software Innovations was contracted to develop an innovative IT platform for supporting load management and generation management in Berlin by the distribution grid operator Stromnetz Berlin GmbH (Vattenfall Group).

Yesterday’s model
With expensive, technologically outdated audio-frequency ripple control technology, control signals were transmitted by coupling large, expensive, and power-intensive equipment to the existing power grid. Audio-frequency signals were sent via the power grid, but ever more frequent grid disturbances meant the signals were not getting through. Moreover, as the number of electronically controlled devices used in households, industry, and business rose, the interference they caused to signals made this method ever more prone to failure.

Today’s model
The new IT platform uses a broadcast system that was designed together with partners Stromnetz Berlin GmbH and e*Message Wireless Information Service Deutschland GmbH. This transmits control signals via e*Message’s own radio network, which besides guaranteeing uniformly high coverage across Germany has the advantage that the signal can be transmitted inexpensively and simultaneously to as many customers as necessary. And since it even penetrates meter-thick concrete walls, the radio signal is superior to other transmission methods such as mobile transmission networks or (A)DSL.

What’s more, the requirement to protect security-critical infrastructure was factored in from the outset: radio broadcasts are encrypted in accordance with the security requirements stipulated by Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security in technical guideline TR-0310 for Smart Meter Gateways.

For Stromnetz Berlin GmbH, using the new broadcast technology enables it not only to turn some 30,000 connected generation and consumption systems – such as photovoltaic systems, heat pumps, electric storage heating, CHP, charging stations, and non-public lighting (company premises) – on and off, but also to gradually adjust energy performance, power supplies, and demand sites. This is an important step on the way to a smart energy grid. With this system, night storage heater charging times can be optimized based on the weather forecast, and commercial or industrial lighting can be dimmed to suit the weather situation, sunrise and sunset times, or required brightness.

How will the broadcast system support smart metering?
Primarily, smart metering is a question of making remote meter readings smarter. The planned deployment of smart metering systems – comprising smart meters and smart meter gateways – extends the scope of smart metering applications such that, for instance during critical network conditions, they can be used for encrypted capacity reduction by switching disconnecting power supply systems or for demand side management of customers.

In areas where communications infrastructure is insufficient or there are structural impediments to reaching gateways, the broadcast system is a reliable option for quickly and safely communicating with a variety of plants and controlling them in a differentiated way.