The Egyptian Electricity Holding Company (EEHC) has set out a strategy to rollout approximately 10 million meters over a period of five years. This plan has attracted a number of electricity meter providers seeking to participate.
In 2018, EEHC commenced a pilot project consisting of 250,000 meters, states Ali Mulla, the marketing manager for El Sewedy Electrometer Group.
Sharing sights into the success of this Egyptian pilot project, Mulla said, “[The project] is considered the first of its kind, probably in this sort of scale in the region.”
El Sewedy Electrometer was among the meter providers that contributed in the project, deploying a total of 63,000 meters, heard attendees during a PRIME Alliance sponsored session at Digital Africa Utility Week and POWERGEN Africa in November.
The scope of work included everything from the collection of load profiles, billing history, ability to recharge the meters, tamper detection, advanced logging, remote connection, and disconnection, to load limiting dynamic tariff plants. According to Mulla, the mass meter rollout was deployed in two separate areas; south Cairo and middle Egypt.
“The nature of the project itself was everything from engineering supply of the meters, communication devices, DCUs and HES, integration with a unified meter data management system, installation and commissioning of the meters, training and four years of operation and maintenance before the product is handed over to the distribution companies,” he said.
The project encompassed six distribution companies. Each of the distribution companies had a head-end system integrated with different meters from different vendors, noted Mulla. He added: “So we were talking about different types of communication, each vendor was proposing their own type of communication from PRIME TLC to GPRS RF interfaces.
“The requirement was for all of these different head-end systems located in the different distribution companies to be fully integrated within one meter data management system, so that the holding company can actually monitor the entire grid for the whole country.”
Mulla continued: “This is where the relationship with the PRIME Alliance started because we truly believe in interoperability, and the only way to achieve interoperability is through reputable associations and alliances such as the PRIME Alliance.”
The Alliance itself consists of utilities, chip manufacturers, meter vendors, communication providers, software providers. When considering smart metering, Mulla stated, “The only way to achieve success in a project of this scale…is with a collaborative ecosystem of these companies together.”
Mass meter rollout phases
Implementation of the Egyptian project took place in four phases. The first phase was a proof of concept phase, with a very small quantity of meters, 1% of the project. Once that was concluded successfully and the KPIs were achieved, we moved on to a pilot phase for approximately 10% of the meters, explained Mulla. “And then finally, the mass rollout, which included the rest of the meters, 100% of the deployment was done during the rollout phase.”
Once the rollout was concluded, and the head-end system was fully integrated with the meters, and the MDM was integrated successfully with the head-end system, “we still managed the operation and maintenance for a period of time before handing it over fully to the different distribution companies, said Mulla.
According to the El Sewedy Electrometer manager, all the meters were in compliance with the DLMS standard. “The reason is that you need to have full interoperability in this type of project if you’re talking about different vendors, if you want to avoid vendor lock in, this was very critical.”
Working with PRIME Alliance and the DLMS Association was key in this aspect because they are using open standards and open protocols, which allows different vendors and different utilities to participate in the implementation and the strategisation of these different standards, stressed Mulla.
Another reason for the success of the project was the modularity of the meters themselves, he said, adding, “We cannot limit the meters per specific type of communication no matter how reliable it is. Modularity is very important because you cannot guarantee the success of one type of communication in different environments, in different fields 100% of the time. This was one of the most important things, modularity of the communication.” ESI
Digital Energy Festival
The following sessions are still available to watch on demand as part of the Digital Energy Festival for Africa:
The Digital Energy Festival for Africa in 2020 was hosted jointly by four of Clarion Events’ leading energy brands Africa Energy Forum, African Utility Week & POWERGEN Africa (now Enlit Africa) and the Oil & Gas Council’s Africa Assembly and the leading energy journal ESI Africa providing six weeks of compelling content.