Pier Nabuurs,
Chairman of the
European SmartGrids
Technology Platform,
CEO of N.V. Kema 
Brussels, Belgium --- (METERING.COM) --- December 22, 2006 – The European SmartGrids Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) outlining the research priorities towards the development of Europe’s electricity networks of the future has been released.

The purpose of the SRA is to provide a clear framework and goals and objectives on which the research community can focus, with collaboration and cooperation, to ensure that Europe’s electricity networks develop in such a way that enhances the region’s competitive position while supporting environmental objectives and the commitment to sustainability.

Consolidating the input of the four working groups of the SmartGrids Technology Platform – Network Assets, Network Operations, Demand and Metering, and Generation and Storage – the SRA identifies five primary research areas, with a total of 19 research tasks, as follows:

  • RA1: Smart distribution infrastructure, including new architectures and concepts
  • RA2: Smart operations and energy flows, including the operational integration of distributed generation and active customers, innovative energy management strategies and customer-driven markets
  • RA3: SmartGrid assets and asset management, including new architectures and tools and long distance energy supply
  • RA4: European interoperability of smartgrids, including advanced forecasting techniques, architectures and tools for operations, seamless operation at HV level and standardisation
  • RA5: SmartGrids cross-cutting issues and catalysts, including customer interface technologies, information and communication, multiple carrier systems, storage, and regulatory incentives and barriers

Automated meter management systems

With metering services and tools, including Automated Meter Management (AMM) systems, having been identified as the “enabling technology” and “gateway” for customer interaction with the future smart grid, a comprehensive survey of metering systems and communications technologies is necessary.

This will be followed by the formal definition of protocols, data formats and all the necessary modules of integrated open-access integrated AMM systems. Among the functions covered will be automatic meter reading, remote (re)connection, flexible tariff management, demand side management and demand response to market and network signals, and integration of distributed generation.

Prototypes will be developed and tested so inter-operability between different options can be validated. Following this, projects will be deployed in the field to test functionality and customer response to the systems. While no particular communication medium is precluded, Power Line Carrier (PLC) is stated as an option that warrants development as a potential competitor to other channels such as GSM, as it has particular application where commercial alternatives are not available, such as in geographically remote areas.

The objective of this task (in RA5) is to define, develop and test a standard-based and interoperable customer-side energy management system capable of managing local power demand and re-dispatching local loads, so that the customer can take full advantage of real-time energy prices, network status information, and other market based opportunities, with particular focus towards distributed generation and demand side participation. Its impact is potentially very significant as it will lift the barrier to wide deployments of AMM systems.

It is proposed that the actions towards advancing the SRA should commence at the start of 2007, focusing on creating engagement and commitment create engagement and commitment of stakeholders participating in the initiative, establishing funding mechanisms to mobilise private and public investments, and aligning EU, national and regional research programs.