The M2M (Machine-to-Machine) and the ‘Internet of Things’ are terms commonly used interchangeably when referring to smart infrastructure networks, writes Amy Ryan, deputy editor of Metering & Smart Energy International.
What is M2M?
A report co-authored by US telecommunications company AT&T provides a broad definition: "The new connectivity of both physical infrastructure and devices is being referred to as the ‘industrial internet’, or the ‘internet of things’, while the technology that facilitates this connectivity is most commonly called ‘Machine to Machine’ (M2M).”
In the burgeoning M2M market, advanced meter infrastructure (AMI) and the evolution of the traditional electric grid into a ‘smart grid’ are showcase applications.
In many countries, the first step to establishing an intelligent grid is the introduction of smart meters which, through M2M technology enables the two-way flow of energy and information between the utility and its customers – facilitating demand management and allowing for time-of-day pricing, load balance and load optimisation.
Machine-to-Machine technology also assists utilities to remotely manage their assets (eg. substation and distributed energy resources automation/monitoring and control). It has the ability to integrate a once siloed energy system, in which the generation, transmission and distribution of energy operated in isolation from each other.
The larger impact of M2M is its potential to help energy companies significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions, lower energy consumption, introduce alternative fuels and drive operational efficiency – a top priority amidst ageing electrical infrastructures.
According to a report released in 2013 by The Carbon War Room, the M2M-enabled smart grid is a significant contributor to the reduction of greenhouse gases (GHG). The report states: "According to research conducted by several industry organisations and NGOs, growth in ICT and M2M has the potential to enable efficiency gains throughout the global economy that could yield GHG emissions reductions of up to 9.1 gigatons Gt CO2e by 2020."
This is good news for companies throughout the energy value-chain that are under mounting...