The European energy market is taking major steps towards deregulation this year. A definite time schedule has been set for the opening of national markets in Europe. From July 1 2004 on, non-residential customers in all European countries have to be able to select their energy supplier freely. And three years later, in July 2007, all customers including residential households have the right to choose where they purchase their energy.

In addition to opening up their markets, the EU members have been forced to set up national regulatory authorities for electricity and gas trading, as has been the case in the UK for years. The regulatory authorities will determine grid access rules and methods of grid cost calculation to enable the definition of applicable fees for energy customers.

REGULATION IS COMING

Up to now, the EU has allowed member countries the option of market-driven agreements to define grid access – the German Verbändevereinbarung, a common agreement of market associations, is based on this option. In the future, this will no longer be acceptable, and the discussion on where and how and when the new authority will be founded has already started. As is the norm in such cases, the market associations have come up with recommendations and requirements long before the official legislative procedures started. It was more than surprising that the German government decided on a regulatory institution in spring this year – up to then, Berlin had preferred the Verbändevereinbarung model. But the deadline of 1 July 2004 is looming, and demands legislative needs as a prerequisite – independent of what solution is adopted.

KEY ISSUES FOR REGULATION

Whatever shape or form the regulatory body in Germany will have, and regardless of who will be responsible for it, the specialists are clear about their requirements and share a virtually common opinion on what to regulate:

  • The grid operation business needs to be unbundled commercially, as does the shareholders’ relationship with the generation, purchase, trading, and sales organisations of the supplier.
  • The grid network access and applicable fees need to be standardised by the regulatory body.
  • Metering and data collection as a major part of grid network management is to be liberalised as well.

Some of the other EU countries have already fulfilled these points prior to full opening of the energy markets. Although they have not opened their markets to the same degree as Germany, they did their homework on regulating the market. But far more interesting is the question as to how the regulatory body will be set up.

IMPACT OF DEREGULATION ON AMR

New challenges require new solutions. There are new responsibilities in a world of deregulated energy supply with unbundled structures. Part of this new responsibility is the need to introduce reliable interfaces between players. The new EDW3000 Metering System is dedicated to creating “true values”.

Energy flows are measured by meters and the meter data is required by the individual market players, such as grid operators, energy resellers, aggregation and pool companies, transco operators or balance power generators, who then process the metering data in their systems. That’s the general theory, but in practice all market players have to have the same data – if not, nothing functions. However, raw meter data is typically incomplete and contains errors, so in the first instance “true values” have to be determined from raw data streams.

On average, 3-5% of today’s automatically collected raw data streams is incomplete or corrupt in the first collection step. If meter data is collected manually – by, for example, writing down the readings on paper – the rate is even higher.

The reasons for these failures vary. Sometimes the meter readers fail on site, sometimes a communication device or GSM connection fails, phone lines are busy or unavailable or a power outage interrupts the meter recording. The reasons for these failures are unexpected and unpredictable, but scheduled events can cause errors too. A failure in the meter time synchronisation with the VDEW standard meters can, for example, cause a break in the ongoing measurement period. An unwieldy 40-page VDEW document explains how to handle these errors. The combination of process failures like this, together with technical errors in the field, makes it difficult and complex to handle without a professional tool, such as the EDW3000.

CREATE "TRUE VALUES"

With the EDW3000, GÖRLITZ has launched an update to the existing ENZ2000 meter data collection system that integrates data collection and data maintenance, including validation and correction. The data collection covers all variations of automatic meter reading, on-site meter reading, mobile meter reading, and meter reading by residential customers via the Internet or on postcards. The raw data collected is then processed with defined validation rules and comprehensible correction formulas to create unique and binding measurement results, where corrections and data modifications are tracked in a historical archive.

The new system continues GÖRLITZ´s story of successful meter data collection software. For more than 20 years, GÖRLITZ has supplied the utilities’ business with solutions, such as the MFLST, ENZ1000 or ENZ2000, to which the EDW3000 is the logical update. It combines the advantages of the ENZ2000 with the new requirements of sustainability and data visibility. The ENZ2000 has been implemented at more than 380 utilities across Europe, giving GÖRLITZ the widest spread of all system vendors in Europe. And with system installations at ENEL, ESSENT, and GRTN, GÖRLITZ has the largest AMR systems in operation in Europe.

SYSTEM DESCRIPTION

If you interpreted the words ‘energy data management’ literally, it would describe the functionalities of the EDW3000 perfectly.

But whilst EDM systems today typically deal with customer relationship management, market processes, and structures, the EDW3000 mainly manages energy data. This makes the system an appropriate tool for grid operators and for those companies whose main task is to collect metering data and make it available to market partners. These could be meter service operators or regulatory authorities.

The EDW3000 is also of interest to energy sales companies and traders, because it offers a complete forecasting module. Good forecasts need as much historical data as possible, so the combination of this historical data with up-to-date interval data makes the EDW3000 a perfect platform for accurate forecasts. The forecasts can be done for individual customers, for production plants, to balance energy demands or for whole grid areas. The forecast creation is done and controlled automatically inside the EDW3000 job management system.

EVEN GOOD FOR GAS

Besides the main segment of electricity metering, EDW3000 is optimised for liquid measurements, such as gas, heat or water. Here the system is expanded to deal with data types, such as pressure, volumes or temperatures that typically do not appear in electricity metering.

Furthermore, gas metering often means handling rows of meter register readings, such as load profile data, whilst electricity load profiles are mainly based on energy consumption in the interval. The difference seems to be marginal at first view, but missing values between register readings can cause different validation criteria from just not having total energy consumption.

Last but not least, gas meters follow different timetables from other meters and have different time references. The experts speak about “gas days”, a “gas month” or a “gas year” where the integration frame is not equal to a standard day (0:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.) but goes for example from 06:00 a.m. to 06:00 a.m. on the following day. Switch points have different national standards and can vary even inside countries; and then there are the difficulties caused by daylight saving time.

To support this, the EDW3000 has integrated specific aggregation rules which can be set in relation to open time zone definitions for import, export, readings, reports or calculations.

INTEGRATED DATABASE SOLUTION

The EDW3000 system is based on a fully scalable Microsoft .NET platform using a relational database, for which Oracle® in the current version 9i or Microsoft SQL-Server® can be used. For different system dimensions, individual editions are available.

The use of the latest .NET technology makes the scalability of the EDW3000 almost unlimited in comparison with the previous ENZ2000 system. This open scalability is cutting-edge compared to other systems in a lot of big projects, in which timeframes for data collection are limited due to the large numbers of meters that have to be read each day. In the EDW3000 system, all server and communication instances can be multiplied independently of each another. If the performance of a specific function, a job or a group of meters or customers is coming to its limits – no problem, an additional server application for this task can be set up in parallel, until the new performance criteria are met.

To ensure the reliability of the system’s scalability, the development of the EDW3000 was done in close contact and consultancy with Microsoft experts, who visited and certified the developments and the system structure during the engineering phase. As a result, GÖRLITZ’s R&D department received top marks from the Microsoft consultants: the EDW3000 system design enables full scalability within the .NET platform.

DATA COLLECTION - PROFESSIONAL VERSION

Besides database management and the fully secure archiving of data, the main function of the EDW3000 system is automatic meter reading. The import and export of meter data on an XML-basis is part of the basic edition, containing format filters for the most usual data formats such as Edifact MSCONS, LPEX2 or EDIG@S.

The modules EDW.collector and EDW.mobile are dedicated to meter data collection via remote reading or manual and mobile data collection.

The on-site meter cabinet is managed meter-ID oriented in the EDW3000 database. All measurement related devices, such as meters, transformers, pulse relays, connections, time synchronisers or modems are managed as ‘devices’ in historical tracking, per meter location. A meter replacement or a change of transformer is tracked dynamically, so the corrections are stored as historical data across all measurements.

The management of the meters and device can be done either through leading ERP-systems (host) or the EDW3000 directly, using the EDW.device expansion module.

OME – OPEN METER DRIVER STRUCTURE

The meter data collection is controlled by central server applications of the EDW3000 and performed in schedules or on request by a leading external system.

In contrast with the ENZ2000, where more than 110 meter drivers are implemented in the internal program code, the EDW3000 uses an open meter engine with a dynamic load of OME meter drivers.

The driver design is well documented for third parties, so meter manufacturers or external consultants can write their own drivers for the EDW3000 system. The meter drivers define both how to retrieve meter data (such as protocol, commands, and definitions) and the rules to interpret raw data streams (such as data filters, data definitions or error handling). This new concept enables the highest possible scalability of the whole system, and makes users independent from the driver development strategy and resources of the manufacturer.

Another major advantage is the integration of meter reading information and validation in one process level. The validation stage has access to the original meter collection values, including error information, logbook entries, and tracked communication failures.

With the integrated comparison of expected data and received data, the system can sustainably decide how to proceed. This can be – on predefined strategy settings – a reading repetition, a correction process or an operator call to decide on the value chain.

MOBILE AND CUSTOMER METER READINGS

All meter data-related functions of the remote reading module EDW.collector are available for the manual reading module EDW.mobile. This module supports mobile meter reading with handheld devices, paper-based manual reading or use of drive-by systems, as well as customer reading using postcards or the Internet to manually enter data.

Route management for the meter readers is implemented into the EDW.mobile client functionality. GÖRLITZ has, in fact, run trials using the brand new UMTS and GPRS services in co-operation with Vodafone online. Using this method makes time-consuming central uploads of meter reading files obsolete. The handheld devices send meter readings to the central EDW3000 instantly and receive OK/NOK statements from the central validation process. Meter readers can be asked for possible checks or re-reads on site as long as they are physically close to the meter.

OPTIONALITY: SAP, REPORTS AND FORECASTS

Besides the new meter data retrieval and management system, the EDW3000 offers additional value with interesting expansion modules. As the EDW3000 does not work alone in a utility’s IT environment, the functional intersection with the leading or back-up system can be set according to the user company’s requirements.

For the connection to an ERP or billing system, the typical market interfaces such as Edifact, LPEX2 or XML are available. The connection to SAP ISU/EDM is implemented in an interactive interface, making data files obsolete. EDW3000 reads and writes as a direct SAP client in and from the SAP ISU system.

The module EDW.forecast is designed to create demand prognoses on the basis of historical load profiles and weather reports. An intelligent forecast core module is implemented that makes the calculations using state-of-the-art methods, such as Kalman filters, exponential smoothing and so on.

The handling of statistical standard load profiles for residential and Soho customers is enabled with the EDW.profiles module, and individual reports can be created with the EDW.reports extension, using the Crystal Report standard to create individual statements, reports, and listings on the EDW3000 data.