Intelligent meters in Norderstedt
Since March 2011, Norderstedt offers its 35,000 customers intelligent meters combined with an enhanced charging model. More than 1,000 customers in the Norderstedt area have already opted for the new “Tidal Current” charging model and smart meters with an Ethernet module were installed in their homes. The web portal allows customers to see how dramatically every day appliances, such as vacuum cleaners, kettles and dishwashers, increase current flow and energy costs.
No fear of competition
Located in Northern Germany, the utilities of Norderstedt are a municipal enterprise, which operate in the market independently of third-party shareholders. Over 350 employees provide the inhabitants of Norderstedt not only with electricity, gas, water and community heating, but also with telephony, internet and cable TV using the fiber optic network of wilhelm.tel Ltd.
The utility is using the new customer-oriented services to set itself apart from the competition and to increase customer loyalty. This is becoming increasingly important as a rising number of companies from outside the sector are taking advantage of the market entry opportunities provided to them by new technologies. “It is probably just a question of time until operators of cable networks go beyond the leasing of their bandwidth and act as metering service providers themselves,” says Peter Heuell, CEO Landis+Gyr Germany, with conviction. In Norderstedt this is not something to be afraid of. Theo Weirich is counting on a further 9,000 customers by the end of the year.
Quick and cost-effective
The municipal utilities use the E350-EDL 21 meter from Landis+Gyr with an Ethernet module permitting broadband communication. Landis+Gyr’s Ethernet module has been on the market since spring 2011 and was previously tested in various pilot projects. “Landis+Gyr is innovative and, like us, sees the future in Ethernet,” Weirich says. “We were convinced by Landis+Gyr’s good reference projects.” Suppliers that already use the E350-EDL21 smart meter as a modular basis can switch their communication to Ethernet technology by simply exchanging the corresponding module.
Data protection has top priority
Data transmission via Ethernet lays the foundation for a stable electricity network. If renewable energies cause electricity to fluctuate, suppliers can control consumption using variable tariffs and smart meters. Therefore, the security of supply can be safeguarded, even for renewable energies, which is a responsibility taken seriously by electricity suppliers. Customer data is presented anonymously and forwarded to the municipal utilities only with the meter number. Personal data is only combined with consumption data for the various invoicing processes requested by the customer. “In this way, the data is protected from attacks by hackers,” Weirich explains. “Data protection is our highest priority here.”
Load distribution using variable tariffs
The new variable electricity tariffs have other crucial advantages. They can be used to both closely control the consumption of electricity and to achieve load equalization. During the evening and at weekends when industry is not consuming electricity, the energy providers are dependent on increased consumption by private customers. Time-based tariffs make load distribution possible. A redistribution of electricity consumption is urgently needed if an increasing number of renewable energies enter the electricity grid. Because wind and sunshine are subject to significant fluctuations, consumption must be more aligned with production in future. In this regard, variable tariffs are one of the most important tools to harmonize energy production and consumption. Ethernet is therefore also a crucial component in the development of a “Smart Grid”.