Flexible meter technology for a fast changing energy market

Paul Boughton
Energy companies have been developing business practices to comply with changes in industry, government legislation, and general shifting attitudes towards energy management. In Europe, the second generation of an industry leading residential AMM meter offers technological and market flexibility to support energy companies in achieving these goals. Antti Aumo reports.

Utilities in the Nordic countries have been fast to adopt Advanced Metering Management (AMM) solutions to optimise their metering value chains and ensure energy market compliance.

Utilities in other European countries are now heading in the same direction. For these countries, including Austria, Germany and Switzerland it has been common to use a flexible module. This enables a utility to be prepared for, and able to adapt to changes in the market. Landis+Gyr is now releasing the second generation of its popular ZMF100 meter family. Known for technological and market adaptability, the meter offers utilities the flexibility they need to become successful players in an ever changing market.

It is difficult for a utility to predict future regulations or customer demands. The ZMF100 meter is equipped with adaptable functions for this reason. It is future-proof and can be adapted to future technologies and energy regulations, which guarantee maximum protection on utility investment. Moreover, the enhanced functionality meets all Advanced Metering Infrastructure requirements.

Various applications can be installed in the ZMF100. This includes, for example, a load-profile application, which offers in-depth analysis of a utility's energy distribution. From this analysis, a utility can manage energy peak times and develop complex tariff structures. Load optimisation enables a utility to develop a strong and lasting relationship with customers by providing more detailed billing information, as well as reducing its overall power usage.

The ZMF100's sophisticated data acquisition technology allows for flexible tariffs. These can be agreed due to clear energy consumption information, which can help a utility manage load peaks. Furthermore, the meter allows for real time energy measurement, which not only optimises a utility's energy data but also pre-empts future government legislation regarding clear and accurate billing.

The ZMF100 can be fitted with communication technologies such as Power Line Communication (PLC) and GPRS. The meter is upgradeable with communication modules through a 'plug and play' function. This ensures easy installation of new modules. As the meter stays in the network only the module is replaced, which can save a utility up to 50 per cent on their investment.

Offering more

The advanced ZMF meter offers utilities further benefits:

The meter's measurement range has been increased so that it offers the complete range of basic measurement functions including reactive and apparent measurement, providing utilities with freedom of choice in measurement values.

The meters are multi energy ready and can deliver values from other electricity, gas, water and heat meters. Reading multiple energy forms via one meter reduces costs and allows the utility to provide services for other heating and water companies that operate in the same area.

An anti-tampering package, together with accurate consumption data, can reduce non technical losses and help detect fraudulent energy consumption.

As liberalisation takes shape across Europe and competition increases, energy companies are developing cost saving initiatives, optimising business processes and striving to keep abreast of market demands.

Landis+Gyr's development of the new, advanced ZMF100 meter is fully in line with market evolution: The European Commission (EC) is encouraging liberalisation of main public utilities including telecommunications, electricity and gas. Through various directives, the EC has aimed to create a level playing field for all players in these industries.

In 2003, the Electricity Directive stipulated that all customers in all Member States shall become eligible to change electricity supplier from 1st July 2007. It also included measures on customer protection including the customer's right to receive transparent information on applicable prices and tariffs, as well as their individual consumption. This enables the customer to reduce their consumption, thereby enabling them to make savings on energy costs, and at the same time contribute to protecting the environment through the reduced use of resources for energy production.

In order to provide utilities with the most advanced metering solutions, Landis+Gyr keeps up to date with the latest energy regulation developments. It also ensures its products are fully compliant with current and future requirements, such as the second generation ZMF100 advanced meter, which is ideal for evolving AMM market needs

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Antti Aumo is Vice-President VP Marketing, Landis+Gyr AG, Zug, Switzerland. www.landisgyr.com