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North Africa’s Egypt is the largest country in the MENA region and took its first steps towards the implementation of a smart grid in 2015. In the past few years, Egypt`s regulatory framework has made significant progress in this area and has created favourable conditions for implementation.

This article first appeared in The African Power & Energy Elites, 2019. You can read the magazine's articles here or subscribe here to receive a print copy.

The strongest drivers behind building a smart metering business case in Egypt are largely centred on modernising existing infrastructure, achieving operational savings and business process digitalisation. In addition, the country has a set goal to increase power generation from renewable sources where the smart grid will play increasingly significant roles in integrating these intermittent sources into the grid.

At the start of 2015, the Egyptian Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Resources issued a tender for the procurement of smart electricity meters, appointing Elsewedy`s smart metering solution to lead the project after a thorough qualification procedure.

Iskraemeco, part of the Elsewedy Electric group and one of the leading smart metering solution providers, is providing project management within the partnership. SMSC, a joint venture between Siemens and Wasion, provides the integration of meter data management software into the utilities` IT infrastructure. Capgemini is responsible for workforce management.

The project is divided into multiple phases; The pilot phase of the project was launched in 2017 and is planned to be completed in mid2019. Within this initial phase, Egyptian Canal Distribution Company (ECDC) will install 50,000 smart meters into their networks. According to the plans, 10 million smart meters will be installed within the mass rollout all over Egypt at the project`s completion.

PROJECT BENEFITS

As a result of smart meter installations, several improvements were implemented on the existing grid infrastructure. A smart meter, as a central device within the infrastructure, enables network monitoring and sending consumption data to the utility service centre. Once an anomaly is registered, the utility can now react immediately to restore normal working conditions.

Through the installation of smart meters that enable remote meter reading, utilities no longer need to bother with sending their staff to the field to take their own readings. This has resulted in significant operational savings. A relevant issue for Egyptian utilities is non-technical losses.

These impact the quality of supply and the electrical load on the generating station; and lead to additional losses, such as damage to grid infrastructure and reduction of grid reliability.

After the entire system is up and running, end consumers will have the chance to get more involved in their electricity consumption and actually have the opportunity to optimize their consumption patterns and minimise their electricity bill.

PROJECT CHALLENGES

The biggest challenge was the shape of the existing infrastructure in the country. For the implementation of a smart metering system, the infrastructure needed to be updated and adjusted accordingly. Due to the smart metering requirements that were set at the beginning of the project, some functionalities of the smart meter had to be redesigned to fit the utilities` specifications. Up till now, all of the challenges that arose during the project have been efficiently coordinated and overcome with constant cooperation between all the involved partners and the customer.

EMERGING MARKETS

The EMEA region is home to multiple smart metering projects and is facing exciting times when it comes to smart grid implementation. New business concepts – IoT (Internet of things), Smart Cities and E-mobility are gaining ground in the region. Emerging markets have a lot to gain with smart metering.

Populations are growing rapidly in these economies and so is the demand for electricity. In order to tackle this, these countries will have to put in place proper infrastructure that will sustain this growth in the long run. A significant impact that smart metering will have on utilities is the optimisation of processes and better revenue management.

A smart system will also allow the inclusion of renewable resources into the grid. End consumers will be able to have a say in how and when they will spend electricity and consequently, how high their energy bill will be at the end of the month. An important element in all these processes is sustainability.

By implementing a smart grid in the electricity infrastructure, utilities will get the opportunity to run their processes in a more sustainable fashion for future generations. Digitalisation and the Internet of Things will enable a more efficient introduction of sustainable processes and allow modern utilities to grow their businesses.

When looking at replicating a similar smart meter programme, choosing the right technology that fits the countries topology and finding an experienced partner are of great importance. When it comes to large-scale projects, only detailed planning and constant collaboration between partners will deliver the desired benefits and results. The most successful smart metering projects that deliver long-term profits include digitalisation and are based on sustainable and circular solutions.

ABOUT THE COMPANY

Elsewedy Electric is an Egyptian integrated energy solutions company that operates globally in five diversified business sectors 1) Industrial sector; including wires and cables, transformers and electrical products. 2)Engineering and contracting; power generation, power transmission and distribution, renewable energy (solar, wind and hydropower generation), construction and infrastructure, water solutions and oil and gas. 3)Technology; data centre, smart cities and AI, cloud offering, big data analytics and block chain. 4) IPP (Independent Power Producer). 5) Development and logistics; industrial, logistics and utilities.

www.elsewedyelectric.com

This article first appeared in The African Power & Energy Elites, 2019. You can read the magazine's articles here or subscribe here to receive a print copy.