Smart Grids

Smart Grids aim to interconnect different entities, mainly consumers and producers, in order to interact to each other in real time. The concept of Smart Grid has been closely linked mainly to electricity grids, as they were the first grids in which technological solutions were developed to meet the growing needs, such as the regulation and distribution of electricity. However, today Smart Grids have expanded into other kind of grids such as water and gas, enabling both utilities and consumers to have flexibility, speed, better and more accurate information.

Usually, Smart Grids use a series of innovative products and smart technologies for monitoring, control and data exchange among the interconnected entities. Smart Meters, communication systems, renewable energy sources, information systems for data collection, processing and monitoring, work together harmoniously in order to optimize the operation of the network and its individual entities. The main benefits are the optimization of reliability, minimization of losses, the management of distributed production, the prevention and control of failures, savings and rationalization.

Having accumulated knowledge through the implementation of projects in the field of Smart Grids, Ether has the ability to understand the needs of the market and its problems, offering integrated solutions (turn-key solutions) for electricity, water and gas distribution networks.

Smart Meters

A key component of any Smart Grid is the Smart Meter. The main purpose of the Smart Meter is the accurate measurment of different kind of quantities (Electricity, Water, Natural Gas), the storage of the measurements and the transmission of them at regular intervals to the telemetry center for further processing. The term "Smart" refers to a series of actions and decisions that the meter can take without requiring human presence. Depending on the case and the measured quantity, the Smart Meter uses methods and protocols of two-way and one-way communication with the Head-End-System (HES) of an AMI / AMR system, in order to exchange data or even take control actions. Unlike the old type of meters, modern Smart Meters are able to give us a wealth of information about the quality of the measures, the case of fraud attempt, ability to connect/disconnect of a point from the distribution network and provide information of any kind of faults that might occur in near-real time.

Whether it is considered as an individual device or as a part of an overall solution, Ether is ready to provide any type of meter that meets international requirements and standards, covering the most competitive demands of the market on a case-by-case basis in Utilities, Municipalities, Retail Market and Net-Metering.

Electricity Smart Meter

The most popular type of smart meter is that of electricity. More and more countries are upgrading their electricity distribution network by installing smart electricity meters in order to monitor the distribution of electricity and the energy consumption. Apart from measuring the energy consumption, today’s smart meters provide us with the opportunity to measure other quantities as well, such as Power (P), Voltage (V), Current (I), Coefficient (PF - cosφ), Maximum demand, Calculation of incoming and outgoing energy (± A) - power (± P) etc. Furthermore they are equipped with technologies that allow us to record the quality of the power supply as well as to send notifications to the HES (Head-End-System) in cases where specified quantities have exceeded its threshold or during a violation attempt.

Whatever the case is, Ether is able to offer advanced electricity smart meters, certified according to the most widely accepted international standards, having the approval of large electricity distributors all around the globe. Complying with all international standards and protocols, the meters can be installed either alone or interconnected in AMR and AMI systems, using the appropriate means and communication protocols. All meters are MID certified and able to serve a range of communication standards and protocols, depending on the case, such as MBUS, WMBUS, MODBUS and DLMS.

Net-Metering

Falling under Net-Metering category as a self-producer, the consumer can produce the energy he needs for his own usage. In this way the consumer is exempted from paying the costs of his own consumption through energy offset. This energy offset is usually considered as the offset of the energy produced by the PV system against the one consumed in the facilities of the self-producer and it’s calculated on an annual basis.

For the consumer to be able to proceed with energy offset, the installation of a specific meter approved by the local utility is required. The meter must be able to measure the Absorbed, Produced and Injected energy. Ether is able to offer suitable meters for Net-Metering, as well as the telemetry modems required to send the data, all certified by the local utility.

Smart Water Meter

n a water grid, Smart Water Meter is used to measure the water consumption that flows into household consumers, facilities, agriculture and generally in cases where water metering is necessary. Having understood the growing contemporary needs of the market and taking into account the issues of the older type of water meters (mechanical meters), today's Smart Water Meters use modern technologies (ultrasound, magnetic technology etc.) that give us better accuracy in measurements and less losses. Furthermore, like the Electricity Smart Meters, smart water meters are able to store and send the collected data for further processing by MDM systems (Meter Data Management) as well as to inform the Central System (HES) administrators for faults that may occur in the water distribution network (e.g. leakage, reverse flow, etc.) by sending notifications.

Having in-depth knowledge of the available types of smart water meters, Ether is able to assess the needs of each customer and offer the appropriate type of meter based on the type of metering technology (multi-jet, single-jet, ultrasonic, magnetic), the size (DN), as well as the communication medium that will be needed to automatically send the data to AMI and AMR systems. All water meters are MID certified and able to serve communication and data exchange technologies based on MBUS, WMBUS, LoRaWAN, NB-IoT as well as OMS (Open Metering System) protocols.

Smart Heat/Cool Meter

The flow calorimeter (Heat/Cool Meter) measures the consumed thermal energy, by measuring the flow rate of the hot/cold liquid that passes through it (usually hot/cold water) and the temperature difference between the hot/cold water that enters and exits through the place that it uses it for heating or cooling purposes. The principle of its operation is similar to that of water meters but in addition to the latter, except from the flow part, calorimeters are equipped with two sensors that measure the temperature difference between incoming and outgoing water. Like water meters, flow calorimeters are able to store and send measurements on specific time intervals as well as send alerts for faults or fraud attempts that might be occurred in the distribution network.

Having in-depth knowledge of the available types of smart flow calorimeters, Ether is able to assess the needs of each customer and offer the appropriate type of meter based on the type of metering technology (multi-jet, single-jet, ultrasonic), the size (DN), the temperature range (T) as well as the communication medium that will be needed to automatically send the data to AMI and AMR systems. All smart flow calorimeters are MID certified and able to serve communication and data exchange technologies based on MBUS, WMBUS, LoRaWAN, NB-IoT as well as OMS (Open Metering System) protocols.

Smart Gas Meter

More and more people around the world prefer gas as their main way of heating by connecting their households or facilities to a gas grid as the savings combined with its benefits give a competitive advantage over other forms of heating. The growing usage of gas requires the appropriate measuring tools. Although measuring gas consumption is more difficult than measuring water, today there are many technologies that allow us to measure the amount of consumption with great accuracy. Diaphragm, turbine and ultrasound are some of the technologies that most of the gas meters are using today. Like water meters, gas meters can store and send measurements on specific time intervals as well as to send alerts for faults or fraud attempts that might be occurred in the distribution network.

Having in-depth knowledge of the available types of smart gas meters, Ether is able to assess the needs of each customer and offer the appropriate type of meter based on the type of metering technology (diaphragm, Turbine, Ultrasonic), the size (DN) as well as the communication medium that will be needed to automatically send the data to AMI and AMR systems. All smart flow calorimeters are MID certified and able to serve communication and data exchange technologies based on MBUS, WMBUS, LoRaWAN, NB-IoT as well as OMS (Open Metering System) protocols.

AMR/AMI Systems

There are two main categories of automated data collection and processing systems:

In both systems the collected data can be sent or read automatically. The main difference between them is that AMI systems includes a telecommunication network infrastructure that serves two-way communication between the meters and the Head-End-System (HES). This gives to the AMI systems the advantage of monitoring things like consumption, get notifications regarding meter violation or grid faults and allow us to remotely connect/disconnect the supply of a specific point in real time. The network infrastructure usually is based on several types of telecommunication technologies like GSM/GPRS, PLC (Power Line Communication), MBUS or a combination of them. Furthermore, due to the existence of two-way communication the meters connected to an AMI system can support prepaid methods since the payment can be done remotely and in real time.

AMI diagram

On the other hand, an AMR system allows us to automate the data collection, but this cannot happen in real time because the communication is being done in one-way, from the meter to the HES. As a result, there is no capability of controlling the meter remotely. The solutions that are commonly used for data collection are the collection by driving (Drive-by system) and walking (walk-by system) near the installed meters, using the appropriate devices for data collection (Handheld units). In some cases, fixed networks are used for the communication of the meters with the central system (HES) as well, but again the communication is done only from the meter to the central system (HES) and not the other way around. Due to one-way communication the data of measurements are being sent in pre-defined time intervals, in which the meter “wakes-up” and sends the data to the HES or to the Handheld Units. This allows us to reduce the energy consumption of the meter, since the data are sent at specific time intervals and not after HES request or continuously. For this reason, AMR systems are preferred for data collection from water meters, flow calorimeters and gas meters since these meters are mostly based on battery power supply instead of mains voltage. The main communication technologies used in AMR systems are NB-IoT, LoRa and LoRaWAN since these technologies have less energy consumption compared to others.

Both AMI/AMR systems enable us to further process the collected data through a Meter Management System (MDM), in order to be used from Billing Systems or Analytic Tools. In addition, the existence of such tools gives us a number of advantages such as statistics that can help us in forecasting and prevention. As a result, right decisions could be taken at the right time and hence better distribution within the network of any physical quantity (Electricity, Water, Natural Gas) can be achieved, avoiding the main problem which is outages into the grids due to mismanagement.

Knowing in-depth the needs of the market, Ether is able to meet and cover any challenge, offering a wide range of solutions. The offered solutions are customized in order to avoid technologies and systems that are unnecessary and hence reduce the cost and the complexity of the final solution. The offered solutions can also be combined, allowing the end user to collect data from different types of smart meters using one single AMI or AMR system since in many cases, different types of smart meters support the same communication protocols (MBUS, WMBUS, MODBUS etc) . In other words, an AMI or AMR system can be used to collect and process measurements from different types of meters (Energy, Water, Gas).

Smart meter projects

Recent smart meter deployments include: