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Taking the AMI route to market

In 2018, the city of Wroclaw, Poland, completed a four-year smart meter rollout, installing over 360,000 meter points to provide customers with reliable and secure communication for better energy management while improving the overall Distribution System Operator (DSO) service offering.

This case study explores the benefits, challenges and way forward.

This article first appeared in ESI Africa Issue 4-2019.
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The AMIplus Smart City Wroclaw project is a multi-vendor project initiated by DSO Tauron Distribution, and is one of the largest advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and smart metering deployments ever implemented in Poland. With multiple meter suppliers on board, this project is also one of largest interoperable smart grid projects in the world.

The total project comprises the AMI head end system (HES), delivery and installation of data concentrators and meters, logistic and warehousing to support the rollout, installation and commissioning process, and communication to customers regarding installation of the smart meters. The main technology is a PLC, OSGP standard, fully interoperable model.

Tauron selected a PLC solution based on the open smart grid protocol (OSGP), a device control networking protocol for smart grid applications. The meters provide interoperability by utilising the shared infrastructure and data concentrators for providing the smart grid and smart metering functionality required by the DSO.

Prior to implementing the project, billing data from meters were collected manually by field workers, which was time consuming and at times inaccurate. The main goal for the project was to achieve a high level of communication with the meters and to date 99.5% of daily meter data is successfully collected.

The collected data consists of four values which are: active power + and -; reactive power + and -; 15 minute energy profiles; and energy billing data. In addition, meters provide event logs and power quality logs and values. To ensure this set of data is accurate, it is very important to lead a clean-up process every day, which means verification of the telecommunication links and the adequate matching of the installed meter in the IT system. The project operation’s clean-up team consisted of five engineer leaders, who operated two-person local teams.

Each local team consisted of a support engineer who was responsible for the documentation and who supported the commissioning process and meter allocation. The data generated by the AMI for this project is ca. 150 million measurements (records) per day, which equals 5,47 billion measurements per year on the DSO’s network.

Director of AMI Infrastructure at TAURON Dystrybucja Pomiary, Mariusz Jurczyk, said the DSO is currently focused on the optimal use of the meter data for the business. “We have finished a new R&D project, where the main goal was to develop the advanced metering infrastructure data management platform – a secure and scalable tool that has a flexible architecture. Its implementation allows the DSO effective use of data from AMI and its analyses based on innovative mathematical and statistical models.” He noted that the main technological challenge was the development of mathematical models for optimal data processing, analysis and inference of AMI for the following areas of research:

• An analysis of available metering data as well as a lack of data

• An analysis of available data derived from balancing meters installed in MV/ LV substations

• Analysis of the impact of reactive energy on balance differences and on MV and LV networks

• An analysis of the simultaneity factor of the LV grid

• The manner of determining the SAIDI and SAIFI indicators with the use of data from the AMI as well as balancing meters within the MV and LV grid

• Analytical tests determining load models for different end user types and for the MV/LV station

• Identifying instances of illegal consumption of electric energy

Some models and algorithms were redefined due to unsatisfactory results.

Most unexpected results

An overlooked challenge – the pace of development of the city – caused a large increase in the number of meters needed during the AMIplus project implementation. In particular, there was an increase in the number of 3-phase meters and a decrease in the number of 1-phase meters. The proportion of 3-phase meters increased by 8% while the project was in progress.

The main problem on the LV network is that customers are allowed to connect devices that generate electromagnetic interference, which affects the smart metering infrastructure. Such an external device ought to meet the international Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) standards. Polish standard PN-EN 500651:2012 (2) specifies the acceptable noise and signal level from PLC devices as well as the permitted working frequencies.

Devices that emit noise above the acceptable level and do not meet PNEN 50065-1:2012 significantly degrade the performance of the PLC. The most frequent source of the EMC interference recognised in the project were the inverters controlling the buildings’ ventilation and lighting. It has been identified that interference from lighting devices, in particular LED type lamps, has been identified as quite common within the CENELEC A frequencies.

Key lessons and conclusions drawn

Providing information to customers about the meter and the new functionality offered is the most important task. Making the AMI interface more customer friendly and easy to use is what builds confidence in the new technology. In addition, a publicity and communication campaign is essential to the success of the smart meter programme.

Other important points to consider:

• Providing a dedicated app for end users on their mobile devices and computers is important for building energy consumption awareness in a digitally advancing society.

• Delivery of the meter schedules to the warehouse has a significant influence on the design and success of the installation process. Tauron suggests a delivery at least four weeks ahead of the installation works to minimise the risks; six weeks is recommended.

• The availability of well-qualified contractor staff resources for the clean-up process is a major success factor.

• The planning process of the meter’s installation is key. Field workers need to be well qualified and trained accordingly as their mistakes cost more by having a direct impact on the customer. They can lead to problems with the customers’ appliances, the clean-up and the subsequent running of the AMI system.

• Cooperation between both parties of the contract is important for delivering the project on time.

Project expansion plan

As the first DSO in the country under the AMIplus project, Tauron shares the measurement data of smart electricity meters with customers using the Wireless M-Bus interface (WMBus). This unique value add for the customer is the real-time access to measurement data (frame Wireless M-Bus is available every 15 seconds). This is a solution market players can use to run with new products and offer them to consumers, taking care about energy efficiency.

To coincide with the start of the project and the installation of the new meters, Tauron Distribution is running an information campaign to prepare clients for the changes, to inform them about the meter exchange – old meters are exchanged for new ones – as well as to educate, answer their questions and resolve their doubts about the changes. The campaign uses local media to present information about the smart meter, its functionality and the advantages for customers. As stated, when rolling out a project of this nature, it is imperative to get customer support through informed, knowledgeable buy-in. ESI

Article republished with minor edits and permission from our sister publication, The Global Smart Energy Elites 2019.