Digitalization is shaking up the energy market. The rollout of smart metering systems is imminent. We can expect it to gain momentum in the coming years in Germany. The requirements for a nationwide rollout in Germany need to be met soon, and the BSI (Federal Office for Information Security) is expected to announce further details concerning the rollout of smart meters in January 2019. Many stakeholders increasingly see this early phase as a great opportunity to generate new business in terms of new services and revenue streams.
The key drivers will be the opportunities the rollout presents to exploit the growing volume of smart meters by processing data from networking contributors and consumers alike via the extremely secure data connections of the smart meter gateway (SMGW). Note that the security requirements in Germany, as specified by the BSI, significantly exceed the existing international standards. This obstacle to market entry can at the same time be seen as an opportunity for use cases with the highest data security requirements.
It marks the emergence of value-added services based on data concerning the generation, distribution, and consumption of energy. And that’s not all; it also opens the door to new initiatives aiming to exploit the newly created metering infrastructure to transfer other types of data unrelated to energy provision and target new sectors of the economy. It’s time now for a new perception of data and its value beyond the energy market.
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- Energy providers in a new role
In Germany and elsewhere, there is a growing independence from traditional forms of energy supply. Entire neighborhoods are supplied by their own source of power. In these schemes, energy providers are ideally placed to take on the role of coordinating, providing, and operating a platform or marketplace – thereby enabling real-time matching between power supply and demand within communities. The new metering infrastructure can be used to measure the power fed into the system, the power consumed, and any trading of power between the market players. This type of marketplace is set to play an increasingly important role in the energy industry. There is also big potential for marketplaces in areas other than electricity.
- Smart metering systems offer security for end users
The new metering systems provide extremely reliable and secure data transfer. This infrastructure lends itself to the transfer any kind of sensitive or personal data. Sensors could be used to monitor data regarding a person´s mobility or medical condition from a pacemaker and transfer it to a medical practice via a gateway. This service can help reduce the need to visit the doctor as well as related costs. Health insurers can offer more services for insured persons, such as monitoring lifestyle-related health risks and, in return, provide incentives in the form of reduced premiums.
- Market boundaries are breaking down
A smart metering infrastructure can be used for more than just electricity. It is also a very effective technology for water. The installation of IoT-capable smart meters has helped local utilities in other countries reduce the costs resulting from water damage. When programmed to recognize unusual patterns of water consumption, smart meters can help identify leaks at an early stage. This is just one of many examples of sectors in which smart metering can create added value; even applications in the retail sector may act as a catalyst.
- Submetering: creating synergies
Today, in many cases, water, power, and heating consumption are metered by different companies. The new smart metering infrastructure opens up the option of submetering by integrating all systems in a building using a secure WAN connection. The meters (e.g., heating allocation) can be linked to the smart meter gateway (SMGW) via a CLS interface. The SMGW than provides a secure communication channel to the submetering and the invoicing systems – thus paving the way for cross-sector utility management.