Smart grids & smart metering.
The use of wind and solar energy poses a considerable challenge to energy providers. The constantly changing intensity of wind and sun has an impact on electricity generation while the voltage in the power grid needs to remain stable to prevent power outages. What is more, an increasing number of private households are producing their own electricity, for example by using small cogeneration plants or photovoltaic systems. Energy flows need to be controlled intelligently with the help of modern ICT so that a balance can be maintained between local generation of energy and energy consumption. This requires a smart grid.
In order for a smart grid to work properly, a huge amount of data needs to be evaluated in real time for operators to see when and where how much electricity is being generated and how much needs to be supplied. Smart meters provide the needed transparency. We have been working with local utilities and major energy suppliers on different projects dealing with smart metering and smart grids.
Video: How smart grids work
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Telekom Laboratories is working intensively on several research and development projects to come up with possible ways to control communications networks using flexible, load-adaptive technology. Examples include the LOLA (Load-adaptive networks & LANs) and DESI (End-to-end energy-sensitive ICT production) projects. Integrated storage elements make it possible to dynamically incorporate energy sources based on demand. It is also possible to adjust the capacities of different network areas to current demand by flexibly activating or deactivating individual network components, which helps saving energy. We may even be able to help keep power grids stable through ICT-supported control of electricity supply in line with demand.
In October 2012, energy provider EnBW, the ABB technology group and Deutsche Telekom put the first automatic local grid station into operation in the Bavarian town of Wechingen. This unit with its compact design makes it possible to adjust the voltage in the local grid to the amount of energy being produced by renewable energy sources. The station automatically shuts off different production plants on the weekends when residents are using less electricity, for example. That helps keep mains voltage from increasing excessively. The automatic local grid station is an important component for low-voltage smart grids and and reduces the need for expansion of the high-voltage grid.
During the reporting period, Telekom was commissioned by RWE to install 15,000 smart meters in the German city of Mülheim. According to the EU's third energy market package published in 2009, at least 80 percent of customers should be able to monitor their energy consumption with the help of smart meters by 2020, motivating them to reduce energy consumption by providing up-to-date consumption data.
Telekom prepares the data from the meters and then transfers it to the relevant energy provider via a smart metering platform in compliance with high data security and data privacy requirements. Unlike recording data manually, there is much less chance of error in smart metering with a more efficient recording process and shorter processing times. The short meter reading intervals required to control demand intelligently can only be managed by technological means. Connecting more than 100 types of meters from around 20 different manufacturers, Telekom's smart metering platform is highly developed as well as efficient in terms of time and cost. The "Metering in Mülheim" project is the largest testbed for smart metering in Germany with a total of 100,000 meters.Find out more
The 2011 amendment to the German Energy Industry Act ("Energiewirtschaftsgesetz") specifies that customers must install a smart meter if consumption levels exceed 6,000 kWh a year. Smart metering makes it possible for customers to more effectively control and manage their own consumption. Smart metering systems also provide energy providers with consumption data that helps them adjust mains supply to actual consumption and activate local energy sources as needed. That makes smart meters a key component of secure energy supply in Germany, which is an important business factor.
The project involves new smart metering technologies, testing and data transport straight to energy distributor's office and data processing systems. Although preparations for this smart grid/smart metering project began in 2011, it was realized in 2012 with first installation being in Pardubice with the major utility company ČEZ, a.s. (Czech Energy Works). An agreement with E.ON and RWE is also in progress.