London, U.K. --- (METERING.COM) --- June 22, 2010 - The Energy Networks Association (ENA) has recently completed a number of studies on the network requirements of smart meters for residential and small business customers in the U.K., including a review of the smart metering system and functionality requirements, a high level data traffic analysis, and review of security and privacy issues.

The studies, which were prepared by Engage Consulting, are intended to maximize the opportunities arising from a wide-scale rollout of smart metering in terms of providing an enhanced more efficient network management capability and a significantly improved level of service to connected customers.

The key areas that were identified as critical for distribution network operators to be able to maximize the benefits of smart metering – in the short-medium term for planning purposes and in the longer term to provide the capability to support a smart electricity grid – are network performance assessment, active network management via system balancing and the management of outages, safety issue management and support of network activities.

The key areas for gas network operators are planning and safety issue management.

The functionality requirements are as follows:

  • 4-quadrant measurement capability, in order to measure real and reactive power flows in terms both of import and export
  • Capability to support feed-in tariffs insofar as these might depend on the measurement of output from demand side energy sources, including microgeneration and (in future) mobile battery storage (e.g. electric vehicles) and ultimately fuel cells
  • Provision of demand (import/export) and demand side generation power flow profile data to authorized parties
  • Support of reliable two-way communication, via the WAN, between the meter and authorized parties (including DNOs) of periodic (half-hourly) data and other defined information; and secure two-way communication, via the HAN, between the meter and in-premise devices connected via the HAN interface
  • Ability to interface with the full range of communication technologies embraced by the overall communications system
  • Permitting of mapping of the smart meter and associated information flows to the electricity network
  • Support of power outage detection by remote interrogation of meter energization status
  • Provision of synchronized time-stamped power outage/restoration information to authorized parties
  • Capability if specified as an option to transmit a power outage signal to authorized parties
  • Storage and provision on demand of voltage profile data to authorized parties
  • Capability to detect a potentially dangerous over or under voltage condition and of configuration to transmit an alarm and/or initiate disconnection through the meter’s integral automatic cut-off switch (if fitted)
  • Provision of basic power quality monitoring functionality (voltage sag/swell), which may be interrogated by authorized parties
  • Support of multi-rate tariff structures (time-of-day, critical peak, dynamic pricing) and a configurable combination of register types
  • Capable of initiation by authorized parties of consumer appliance load switching in support of remote load management
  • As an optional requirement (if specified), a configurable and remotely controllable cut-off switch designed to operate automatically if the customer’s load exceeds a predefined limit and duration
  • Incorporation of measures to detect and guard against tampering and unauthorized access to the meter terminals
  • Functionality to respond to daily synchronization signals to ensure continued accurate time-stamping of information
  • Subject to technical feasibility and economic viability, support of safety features, including detection of excessive contact temperature and reverse polarity.

In addition to a thorough review of this functionality, consideration was also given to the possible bandwidth and latency requirements of the communications system (which will ultimately depend on the technical solution), and a data traffic analysis indicated that overall, the incremental requirements for data volumes, frequency and immediacy (and hence the requirements in terms of bandwidth and latency) would not be unduly onerous.

In particular the data traffic analysis, which assumed TCP/IP transport protocol, found that the annual data flow volumes per meter would be less than 1.5 MB for electricity meters and less than 1 MB for gas meters (adding, over a total meter population of 27 million electric meters and 20 million gas meters, to 30-40 TB for the electric meters and 15-20 TB for the gas meters). It was also assumed that to support the network operators’ requirements, certain data would need to be stored within the meter for a minimum of 3 months.

Assuming that the network operators are able to access all the data they have specified at the required level of granularity, then that data must remain confidential and secure, the security and privacy control points study notes. Access to smart metering data must be via robust authentication processes that ensure that the party attempting to gain access is who they say they are. Once that access is achieved then robust authorization processes must ensure that the party can only access the data and meter functionality that their role entitles them to.

It is essential that the security and privacy aspects of any smart metering system and smart grid are given appropriate consideration early in the design process so that the required privacy arrangements and security protocols are “baked in” to the system. This will then minimize the risk of security or privacy breaches occurring once the smart metering system is in place, so avoiding a major negative impact on the public’s view of smart meters and grids and avoiding the considerable extra cost of trying to retrofit additional security and privacy measures into an existing system.