Intelligent electricity meters provide added value
Old-style Ferraris (induction-type) electricity meters will soon have had their day. Smart meters are gaining ground. They enable users to save electricity and provide the basis for the energy network of the future.
Deutsche Telekom has already equipped some local authorities with the new infrastructure – and the feedback so far is positive. By 2020, around 20% of Europe's total energy consumption is to be met from biomass, wind, solar or hydropower, according to current EU targets. The German “Renewable Energy Sources Act” actually stipulates a figure of 35% in the case of electricity. Nationwide installation of smart meters in households is considered to be the key to achieving an energy turnaround. These meters deliver real-time data on when, where and how much electricity comes into the network locally, and how much the consumers use.
Striking a balance
Smart meters allow energy providers to compensate for fluctuations in the generation and consumption of energy due to decentralized, regenerative energy producers and enable providers to strike a balance between supply and demand. The EU has obliged Member States to equip around 80% of all households with these meters by 2020. Telekom is already active in this future market: Telekom has concluded a contract with Voltaris, experts in meter point operation, relating to meter reading services for up to 100,000 electricity meters – this will lay the foundation for the energy network of the future in south-west Germany.
Keeping track of power consumption
Telekom has already supplied many households in Friedrichshafen and in Emden with smart meters. Users can keep track of their energy consumption, analyze and monitor it at any time via an interactive Internet portal – using a PC, smart phone or TV. “Now I have a much better idea of where electricity gets used in my house”, says Stefan Dunkenberger of Friedrichshafen. “My old freezer was a terrible power guzzler – I switched it off straight away. I use a multiple socket outlet to switch all my appliances off at night in order to prevent power being consumed by appliances that are on standby.”
Times change and prices change
Besides retrieving up-to-the-minute meter readings, Dunkenberger can also analyze his energy consumption on an hourly, daily, weekly, monthly or annual basis and make comparisons with previous time periods. Figures can be displayed optionally in graph or tabular form. He considers the biggest advantage to be the fact that he can also use the portal to see the times when electricity is cheapest: “I arrange larger washes accordingly and save quite a bit of money”. According to a study by the Wissenschaftliches Institut für Infrastruktur und Kommunikationsdienste [German Scientific Institute for Infrastructure and Communication Services] and the Fraunhofer-Verbund Energie [Fraunhofer Institute for Energy], shifting the time of day when private households consume most energy could, on its own, save around ten terawatt hours a year, this is equivalent to the capacity of 10 to 15 large coal-fired power plants. As a result, the environment, industry and end consumers benefit from “smarter” ICT.