By Gyõzõ Kmethy

Standardisation in Europe is under the responsibility of the European Standardisation Organisations (ESOs), CEN, CENELEC and ETSI. They cover roughly the same areas as their corresponding global organisations, IEC, ISO and the IUT respectively. Between the European organisations and their global counterparts a strong co-operation has been established via bilateral agreements. European standards therefore may be adoptions of International standards, or “home grown” standards, established by the ESOs.

There are many hot subjects for standardisation deserving our attention from electric cars to nanotechnology, but this article wishes to focus on standardisation for smart metering.

Smart Metering systems and Advanced Metering Infrastructures (AMI), in the wider context of smart grids, are in fact in the centre of standardisation efforts in Europe, as they are in several other areas of the world. An AMI should help to achieve such important goals as improving energy efficiency, integrating distributed, renewable energy sources thereby improving security of supply, decreasing the dependence on fossil fuels and protecting the environment. Fostering the operation of the energy markets, providing better service to energy endusers and creating new knowledge-based industries are other important objectives. It is also widely recognised now by all, that such a new infrastructure can be successfully created only if proper market regulation is in place and if the systems are based on open standards.

Smart meters have been in use in the commercial and industrial sectors for many years, but the European market in the small commercial and residential segment essentially has been sparked off by the European Directive 2006/32 on energy end-use efficiency and energy services, demanding – among others – better metering. Most European countries have launched smart metering projects and some have made a considerable progress.

Although several International and European standards have already been established and successfully implemented in Europe and elsewhere, the European Commission perceives the lack of a comprehensive set of open standards covering all utility commodities, all AMI and DER control requirements and all communication media as an important barrier to a wide scale adoption of smart metering and building the European AMI. Therefore within the Seventh Framework Programme – the EU’s main instrument for funding research in Europe – it funds now a collaborative research project for the development of open-access standards for smart multi-metering services. This is the OPEN meter project, bringing together the expertise of 19 participants, including major utilities, metering system manufacturers, technology providers, universities and standardisation organisations to establish requirements, review and assess existing technologies and standards, identify and fill gaps, test solutions and finally draft a suite of standards suitable for European standardisation. For more information, see the article in MI 2009/2 and the project website www.openmeter.com.

Another major driver of standardisation efforts is the Standardisation mandate M/441 of the European Commission (issued the 12th March 2009), given to CEN, CENELEC and ETSI, in the field of measuring instruments for the development of an open architecture for utility meters involving communication protocols enabling interoperability. The mandate requires the development of European standards comprising a software and hardware open architecture for bidirectional data exchange with utility meters to support a wide range of application, emphasising the importance of a secure interface to the protected metrological block. Another task is the development of European standards for additional functionality, to achieve full interoperability. The ESOs are expected to present a work programme by September 2009, and then to develop the communication standards within nine months and the standards for additional functions within 24 months. For the preparation of the response, a Smart Metering Coordination (SM-CG) group has been set up, with the involvement of the relevant Technical Committees and other major stakeholders. The OPEN meter project is among the organisations invited to take part in the work.

At the first OPEN meter project workshop held in Brussels on 8 July, the objectives and the first deliverables of the project have been presented to the stakeholders, including the representatives of the SM-CG. At the end of the workshop, it was agreed by all participants that the objectives and the timeline of the OPEN meter project are very much in common with those of standardisation mandate M/441, and follow-up coordination meetings have been scheduled for the standardisation community to benefit from the project deliverables.

ESMIG, the European Smart Metering Industry Group (www.esmig.eu) is another important player and contributor. Recently, they have established a partnership with CENELEC and ETSI on the field of standardisation for smart metering. Several members of ESMIG are already represented in the Technical Committees of ESOs and in the OPEN meter project. A formal partnership with the ESOs should further improve co-operation.

In addition to the major initiatives and players mentioned already, there are almost countless organisations and national initiatives addressing the issues of smart metering and proposing technologies and standards.

Harnessing all these initiatives into a coherent set of generally agreed and adopted standards is a major challenge ahead. The standardisation initiatives of the European Commission seem to have succeeded to bring all major stakeholders around one table and to foster a good co-operation between them, so we have a good chance that the challenge will be met. This will be crucial for the success of smart metering in Europe. We also hope that through the participation of global players in European standardisation efforts on the one hand, and co-operation agreements between the ESOs and the Global Standardisation Organisations on the other hand, the new European Standards – as this is the case already with some existing standards – will be successfully used worldwide.