Net-PODS is a new product launched by Ergon Networx into the South African energy market.

NetPODSDeveloped by a consortium including Northwest University and Tshwane University of Technology and funded by the Innovation Fund, a Department of Science and Technology initiative, the resulting technology uses bi-directional power line communications technology for the ‘last mile’ network to communicate with residential load control devices that enable the municipality (and Eskom) to implement intelligent load management strategies.

Net-PODS has been SABS tested and approved for use in the residential environment, and has been fully field tested to ensure reliability and performance under stringent South African conditions. The products are manufactured to ISO9000 standards to ensure quality.

Net-PODS is a distributed network system that optimises load control in a residential environment and focuses on hot water systems, and up to three additional loads such as under-floor heating and air-conditioning. Using locally developed intelligent algorithms the system effectively avoids consumer cold water complaints while maximising the amount of load that can be removed from the residential peak. This is important since it allows better utilisation of generation capacity due to the fact that residential maximum demand contributes up to 35% of total maximum demand. Of this 35%, about 18% is due to uncontrolled hot water systems. This implies that 6% of the total maximum demand in the country is attributed to uncontrolled hot water systems (geysers). Full-scale implementation in South Africa would allow a reduction of 1,25 GW from the residential electricity peak, equivalent to a medium sized power station.

This new technology will allow municipalities not only the capability to do effective residential load control, but also to perform automated meter reading on the same network. This means that with a single PLC-based network in place, a municipality will be in a position to offer its residential consumers a choice of billing or prepaid electricity supply using existing payment channels, and a time-of-use tariff structure.