Is Smart Metering smart enough for Africa?
By K van den Berg, Aurecon
Electricity+Control February 2014 (pages 28 – 29)
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The extensive functionality of smart metering systems is not always fully appreciated. Smart metering systems support various aspects of electricity distribution management and are generally recommended internationally as a way to enhance the services and financial viability of electricity utilities. However, it is pointless simply to collect vast amounts of system data; the value is in the management of this data. The solution lies in the integration of a smart metering system with a highly effective meter data management system.
A typical smart metering system will have a smart meter at the customer’s premises with a load switch and in-house display. These devices communicate via various communications media and the data is transferred to a meter data management system for storage and processing.
In the metering mode, the smart metering system provides the measurement and recording functions to enable effective measurement of consumption data for billing purposes. It records data at 30-minute intervals, which enables the utility to determine when and where energy has been used. The ‘smartness’ of the smart metering system comes from being flexible and multifunctional, able to enhance the management of distribution systems and improve energy efficiency.
Smart metering has a place in African utilities to meet the needs and particular characteristics of Africa’s electricity consumers. Smart metering is only really smart if it is carefully integrated into the distribution system with a specialised meter data management system, and the system is used to improve business processes, utility operations and customer services.
- A smart metering system should be integrated with an effective meter data management system.
- Smart metering systems provide measurement and recording functions for billing purposes.
- Smart metering with effective meter data management have a place in African utilities.